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    • Soul, Spirit, Mind, Consciousness, ego, self...differing terms we’ve used in attempts to identify - label this part of us.

      Are you of the opinion an immaterial part of your being exists? Do you see this part as fungible and do you have any practices to grow, improve, develop this part of your being?

    • many complex systems are synergistically greater than the sum of their parts. That synergistic additional something that makes us human, more than our skin and bones - it is immaterial inasmuch as we do not find it between the cells; but it arises from our material existence. We exert influence beyond our own lives due to our interactions with Culture - another immaterial manifestation of the collective actions of many components (many humans making a culture, whereas many cells make a human).

      This immaterial "humanity" we each manifest, it is a unique attribute of our individual existence. We each live in our own unique place and time and we each have our own unique imprint on the rest of humanity. That imprint, great or small, is indelible. It has local effects which may not be apparent long after we are gone, but in the time of our living and some time after it persists.

      Time is a dimension of spacetime. It appears from consideration of the consequences of General Relativity that time, like the spatial dimensions; is "complete". All the points of space exist in a permanent way, regardless of whether we are present to observe. Likewise, it seems likely that all the moments of time are permanent. The vast four-dimensional universe of spacetime is complete from here to infinite reaches of distance and from beginning to end. Our thread of existence - moving here and there in space over an allotted span of years - is a permanent and eternal aspect of the universe; a thread in the great tapestry of existence. Vital to the overall beauty of the whole.

      Despite that spacetime is complete, it is clear that events are linked by causality. We are agents of causality - we somehow create the future that already exists. This is an enigma. Although we probably cannot physically change the course of our existence, it certainly feels like we can. I choose to type these words, or not. There is no "going back" and existing in a different way, so we cannot empirically demonstrate the existence of real choice; only sense it. To the extent that such choice is real, I think I am making the best choices for a happier world. But in fact, I may simply be experiencing the path of an eternal thread no more changable than the eternal motions of the galaxies.

    • I read this earlier today:


      There is a thread you follow. It goes among
      Things that change. But it doesn’t change.
      People wonder about what you are pursuing.
      You have to explain about the thread.
      But it is hard for others to see.
      While you hold it you can’t get lost.
      Tragedies happen; people get hurt
      or die; and you suffer and get old.
      Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
      You don’t ever let go of the thread. 

      —William Stafford 

      Seems to tie in nicely with your thought we’re following an eternal thread-

    • In the events of life I look for small tells and synchronicity. Try not to ascribe too much meaning or wishful thinking to them; but do smile when patterns, events and messaging appear to be more than random- order from chaos is part of our existence.

    • I read a book many years ago - The Milagro Beanfield War, by John Nichols -Robert Redford made a movie from it. The story was of a small southwest community of latinos in a water-rights war with a developer. Anyway, the people were portrayed as experiencing a town far more crowded that it was it reality - a town full of ghosts of their ancestors; constantly inspecting their lives and offering critiques. The people's existence was bound to their ancestors' values and opinions.

      Now I live in Latin America, in a small town. It is weird to say, but those threads of connection are starting to settle on me. I think it is just that we live very peacefully and quietly and there isn't that much happening day-to-day; but when I discover that I need to talk with someone, very often they discover it about the same time and we meet on the road half-way between our houses without having made any arrangements to meet. It doesn't happen all the time, but certainly more often than would ever have happened back in the "real world". Or maybe so much other stuff was happening back then, the chance meetings were simply unnoticed in the noise.

    • I don't know about spirit or soul, but I have spent a fair amount of time over the past decade reading and thinking about consciousness and mind. I suppose I'm some sort of property dualist--I believe only in physical substance, but I think the brain gives rise to mental properties, which depend on the physical substrate but are not identical with the physical properties. Thus the mind is an emergent property of the brain. This seems to be a common thread in contemporary philosophers of mind, though there are many subtle disagreements among them. I do have a nagging suspicion that information may be as fundamental as matter and energy, but that we have not yet come to a full understanding of its ontological status. It is possible that we will not be able to fully explain mind and consciousness until we reach a deeper understanding of information.

    • Your perspective is valid and held by many- much of it I agree with. I’m also of the opinion we are more than our physical selves. Immaterial forces under pin and produce our physical material reality-

      Paradox is part of our existence. Information and potentiality arise/evolve from no thing.

      What we imagine we create from a prior point of non existence- are we mimicking the natural order or is this unique to Humans?

      No other creatures do this. Fascinating and humbling!

    • The sum of the parts are greater than the whole but I'm not a dualist and don't believe anything survives outside of my corporeal being. I'm not religious nor do I believe in supernatural things which of course affects my view on this. It would be very interesting indeed however if we did discover that there is more to this world than most scientists think. Maybe it's a simulation... Doubt it.

    • Hard determinism is the easiest to make a case for but I sort of hope there's more to this than just that. I fear you are probably right but then so long as I have the illusion of free will, does it really matter? Probably not.

    • Very interesting thoughts on information. What exactly is it anyway? Does it exist without our brains? I don't think so but then I'm not sure I fully understand what it is. We need a working definition to start with and that's not something I can come up with.

    • Material biological life exists due to orderd Information. Information and an ordering intelligence seem as fundamental as the laws of the universe.

      A theory posited is intelligence and potentiality are self arising, part of the fundamental structure of empty space.

      Information is immaterial and without it we don’t exist. This to me answers the question are we more than our material selves, for me the answer is yes.

      Immaterial and material are intertwined as properties of existence, there are studies in physics that try and look at this from the quantum level-

      Weird shit, very to explain or understand.

      Information at the most fundamental level is order from chaos. The random soup of reality seems to be larger than the small amount of intelligence and order we observe.

      Imagine a fully ordered and intelligent universe teeming with Life. Does it already exist beyond our awareness?

      We can only draw conclusions on what we can observe and measure, yet we must keep asking questions that we can’t currently answer.

    • Information is immaterial and without it we don’t exist

      I agree that information is immaterial, but I wonder whether the second part is actually the reverse, 'without us information doesn't exist.' It's quite confusing to me. Shannon approached the question as an encoding problem, namely, how to minimize redundancy in the transmission of a message. Thermodynamics sees it as entropy, or a measure of (dis)order. I can understand how 'message' could be construed as not requiring a biological consciousness, but I don't understand how it can avoid a sender and receiver of some sort. So can it exist in a void or is it simply an emergent property of some physical system? Likewise, it is unclear to me whether order has any meaning without something that perceives it. Nevertheless, I find it impossible to accept that the laws of thermodynamics depend on us in any way. To further complicate matters, it seems to be accepted that information and entropy are at least highly correlated, if not identical. That's where I get lost altogether.

      It's easy for me to understand how things can exist without a specific physical extent or locus--all first-person experiences like pain, love, fear, etc. fall into that category and I don't doubt their reality. My intuition says that information is independent of experience, but I haven't come to grasp where it lives, so to speak. I suspect that's probably not the right way to think about it, but then I don't know what the right way consists of. Hard topic for me.

    • Can we have our cake and eat it too? Can we have hard determinism and causality at the same time? In other words, All of the points of spacetime exist - all the past and all the future. Our future is fixed, BUT it is fixed by our inevitable causative actions of the present. We are who we are and we do what we do and we create the future, albeit in an inevitable way. This seeming conflict is in the nature of a "koan". I think it is much like various mystic philosophies have tried to express:

      “You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.” ―Alan Watts

      “One in All -- All in One
      If only this is realized,
      No more worry about your not being perfect” ―Buddhist Proverb

      "It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an
      inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
      Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ―Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Yes, we can have our cake and post on it too. I don't think there's any choice, in fact.

      If hard determinism is true, it's irrelevant. Even if the future is fixed it is unknowable. I believe that it has been shown that the universe does not have the capacity to compute Laplace's Demon, which was an early argument for determinism based on mechanics. And, of course, there's no way to make the measurements that would supply the data. It's really the equivalent of the old song, 'Que será, será whatever will be, will be.' The future may be inevitable, but included in that is our own responsibility to make decisions and the processes which that entails. Berkeley philosopher John Searle offered this suggestion to those who believe in hard determinism: next time you're in a restaurant, try telling a server who's waiting to take your order that you have no free will and cannot decide and besides you don't have to because the future is inevitable. I have always admired Searle's ability to deflate philosophical excess using simple observations.

    • Okay so entropy is the natural order of things but evolution creates order and intelligence as a result of that. I still don't see how information fits into it. Why do we even need the word? Can't we just say order comes from chaos via evolution? I don't see the need for anything beyond the material so long as I understand and accept that evolution is a natural thing that often comes from physical and chemical properties of matter alone. The likelihood of life being created is more a matter of probability and the laws of nature than anything else. Maybe life in the long run increases entropy but so what. I still see no need for information as things are as they are without it. I still don't see a clear definition of information that I can work with here. Help me see clearly.

    • I agree with most of your first paragraph.

      I'm going to take a guess here and say maybe this is like our understanding or misunderstanding of the quantum nature of matter. We want to think of tiny bits of matter (subatomic) as particles but they aren't really physical particles but rather fields. Very confusing stuff. Maybe this information thing is a similar type of thing. Confusing.

    • Let's do a thought experiment here to try to challenge the hard determinism thesis. Imagine that we are part of a multi-universe and some unrelated event in another universe interacts with and creates a random disturbance in our universe. There was no causitive event for it in our universe. Would that not that tiny event throw a wrench into our hard determinist argument? What if we don't accept the hard determinist hypothesis? What then?

    • I would say that the fact that "something" created a random disturbance in our universe makes it a causative event. By invoking a multiverse, aren't we just expanding our consideration of the scope of the universe? We'd have to be careful with semantics here; if there is a multiverse, then I would extend the hypothesis of hard determinism to the whole thing: the interaction between the 'verses is a "point" in their respective spacetimes - as fixed as any other point.

      But if we reject hard determinism and say the past is real and the future is being created moment-by-moment in the present - then I would still say that when two 'verses of a multiverse interact in some way, they are sharing one or more points and causal relationships might extend into both 'verses futures from the point of contact.

      The whole idea of a multiverse was concocted, as I recall, to "fix" the phenomenon of a collapsing quantum state - to somehow let an observer skate along in the company of a superposition, until he deigns to observe in which 'verse his respective versions reside. It is an idea that has its followers, but it seems cumbersome to me - too much overhead! ;)

    • I think the issue of information comes up in relation to phenomena at black holes, but I am not too clear on the details. I remember reading as a kid that all the things that ever fell into a black hole are still "visible" - however redshifted and overlain by later objects - at the event horizon. The outside observer can never see anything pass the event horizon - how could light from such an event ever come to the observer? Instead, the final moments above the event horizon are progressively more red-shifted to arbitrarily long wavelengths. But somehow that is an information-preserving phenomemon.

    • My question to you is this - do you ascribe to the hard determinism hypothesis? While I think it's easier to defend and makes logical sense, my human intuition (known to be faulty) won't let me swallow this. But as has been said - does it really matter if it's determisinistic?

    • I'm not sure this interpretation has stood the test of time. Hawking radiation means what? Information is lost? Information returns to our side of the event horizon? Is information though not just the history or movement of some material thing? If we can see something that was or is then why do we need to call it information? I still can't wrap my head around the need for it. Maybe they're simply using it to suggest that order is preserved. If it's merely a word to describe a physical state then it's not something that can stand on it's own nor is it essential. I will admit I'm not expert on this.

      Do you have any accessible posts to videos or short articles about this?

    • Like you, I find hard determinism disconcerting. But on reflection and after a life of contemplating physics, I am forced to conclued that hard determinism is the way of things. I am still trying to piece together for myself how I can be acting and CAUSING things, and my experience of the conscious deliberation that preceeds action not be anymore than an inevitable outcome of prior events. But if the order of events is dependent on the frame of reference of the observer, then logically: the events themselves must have some sort of permanence such that they can be re-ordered as needed - they cannot be ephemeral. The past, at least, is "real". Why not the future?

    • I am sorry, but I have not dug into the information side of things. I don't know the thinking on conservation-of-information as a law or hypothesis or speculation. I am sure there must be stuff on youtube - if you find something interesting, please bring it back?!

      From a personal perspective, I find the concept of conservation of information to be preposterous: I forget things ALL THE TIME! It almost never comes back. Now my wife - she might be proof of conservation of information . . .

    • Not remembering everything is Grace, I’m thankful for that! Information is code. At the quantum level everything is, and is not. Popping in and out of awareness/reality/existence.

      An ancient thought says this is a temporal reality, a larger more enduring one exists.

      One where the popping stops? All the switches are on? For code to function you need binary digits and a switch mechanism, RNA/DNA is the switch that allows for biological life in our little Reality. Cells are the machines-

      The constituate parts are fractal, binary and constrained by physical laws, Information and what animats life seem like different things. Yet it’s wound together.

      Greater things must exist, we seem to inhabit a limitless expanding reality- At some level beyond our awareness I’m thinking all the switches are on!!!

    You've been invited!