# New Philosophy

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New Philosophy

I do not know particularly where to post this... I have been trying out this new idea of mine on a few sites so far, so I want to see what my fellow Atheists will think about it:

Existence is the flux between the potential and the actual, which the balance between is influenced by humanity's ability to create

In order to understand this concept, look at the levels of matter in the universe. At the base of all 'stuff' is matter. 'Matter' can be anything that takes up volume and such. In this state, matter holds a vast potential to be anything from atoms to subatomic particles to anything else. However, this potential is balanced by its lack of much actuality, meaning that matter in and of itself is not much of anything.

Now, if you look at an atom, the same applies. It has a great deal of potential; not as much as matter, but still a great deal. Though it has a small amount of actuality still, it has more than matter.

Take DNA now, a combination of atoms. DNA cannot be a rock or a star or anything like that, so its potential is decreased. However, its actuality is greatly increased, as it is something much more complicated.

DNA makes proteins, which in turn build cells, which can be neurons, which in turn make up our brains. We can see in each of these steps that potential is converted in the actual. There doesn't seem to be an ultimate end to it, nor does it ever seem to move backwards either.

Except in the case of the human mind, which in its actuality turns back into potentiality. People now can alter DNA somewhat for instance, showing that this new actuality can affect the potentialities of previous steps. Humans, therefore, can affect their own actuality because they create potentialities.

This has greater implications than just tinkering with DNA. It means if humans can create potentialities through the mind, which can be called imagination, then it also implies that man is a very special conduit in the universe.

On one end of the extreme lies pure actuality, which could be called the entire universe itself, all of reality that ever was and ever will be. Mankind lives here, creating from potentials new forms of ultimate actuality.

On the other end lies pure potential. Beyond matter and energy and quarks and the quantum will lie potential without the actual. It will literally be so simple it is too difficult to comprehend, because in this 'thing' lies the potential for all actuality of the universe. For this reason, the ones attempting to find the ultimate beginning of the universe will find that they will find this ultimate potential, which won't appear as anything at all.

Mankind, having the ability to imagine and channel this potential through himself and into creating actuality therefore is a conduit between reality and potential. One could say man is a link between the natural and the divine.

I can go explain the implications of this (which are rather interesting) if people here wish to hear it. If I put this in the wrong forum, sorry, I didn't know where else to place it.

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Sorry for how crappy it

Sorry for how crappy it looks. I dont know how to fix that...

BobSpence
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I cleaned up the worst part

I cleaned up the worst part for you.

We see this sort of problem from several posters. What browser are you using, and are you using a separate program to write your post and then copy and paste it into the editing window in the web page?

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

Wonderist
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Ead wrote:I do not know

I do not know particularly where to post this... I have been trying out this new idea of mine on a few sites so far, so I want to see what my fellow Atheists will think about it:

This is the right forum.

Quote:
Mankind, having the ability to imagine and channel this potential through himself and into creating actuality therefore is a conduit between reality and potential. One could say man is a link between the natural and the divine.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. It all seems rather vague and fuzzy. As if you're trying to see something that may or may not be there, so you're trying to discern the fuzzy outlines of something you think you see.

While it can be fun to speculate about things this way, unfortunately, that method of thinking is liable to get you to believe wacky things for no good reason. It is incredibly easy to fool people. And the easiest person to fool is yourself.

If you try very hard, you can see anything in anything. You can see the Virgin Mary in a tortilla, for example. If you convince yourself that what you are seeing is really there... then you have a problem.

In general, my advice to you is to learn more about science, especially physics. Vaguely, it seems like you are grasping at things that are better covered by Thermodynamics and Information Theory. I would recommend seriously trying to learn some real physics. Maybe buy a textbook. Maybe sign up for a class. Maybe search online. But study real physics, not pseudo-mystical stuff like Quantum New Age crap.

Let's get to some specific things.

Quote:
Existence is the flux between the potential and the actual, which the balance between is influenced by humanity's ability to create

What *precisely* do you mean by 'potential' and 'actual'? These are very vague concepts you use. Sometimes you use them in ways that seem to be the opposite of what I would have expected you to mean.

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In order to understand this concept, look at the levels of matter in the universe. At the base of all 'stuff' is matter. 'Matter' can be anything that takes up volume and such.

Matter is not that which takes up volume. Matter is that which has mass. This is a basic thing you'll learn in highschool physics, which is why I suggest buying a textbook or taking a course.

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In this state, matter holds a vast potential to be anything from atoms to subatomic particles to anything else. However, this potential is balanced by its lack of much actuality, meaning that matter in and of itself is not much of anything.

It seems to me that matter is the *most* actual of all, not that it has the least actuality. I think your vague concepts are going to lead to contradiction and confusion.

After reading the rest of your post, it appears to me that you are talking about a process of transformation of simple to complex, which you call 'potential' to 'actual'. You should learn about thermodynamics and information theory to understand that there's already a universal tendency for systems to go from low entropy to high entropy. Some would say low information to high information. Another way to look at it is complexity. Another way to look at it is the freezing of the universe, aka the heat death of the universe. If you're not clear on these concepts and ideas, all the more reason you should study them.

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Now, if you look at an atom, the same applies. It has a great deal of potential; not as much as matter, but still a great deal. Though it has a small amount of actuality still, it has more than matter.

An atom *is* matter. Specifically, it is a particular stable arrangment of matter. This 'arrangement' can be considered 'information' or 'state'. I think this is what you are really trying to talk about.

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Take DNA now, a combination of atoms. DNA cannot be a rock or a star or anything like that, so its potential is decreased. However, its actuality is greatly increased, as it is something much more complicated.

DNA can actually be a 'rock', in the sense that it can be crystallized. A single strand of DNA is actually much less complex than a star. It's even less complex than a rock. there is a lot of information in a star and in a rock, due to the vast number of atoms in them. The human genome, uncompressed, can fit on a single CD. That's only about 700 megabytes of information. The exact structure of a rock would entail vastly more information than that.

The difference is in the function of the information, in its interactions with its environment. Again, to understand this, you'll need to do some work studying physics and information theory.

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DNA makes proteins, which in turn build cells, which can be neurons, which in turn make up our brains. We can see in each of these steps that potential is converted in the actual. There doesn't seem to be an ultimate end to it, nor does it ever seem to move backwards either.

If you get sick and die, doesn't that seem to count as 'moving backwards' in terms of complexity/actuality? This is an important point to understand. There is no such thing as inevitable progress, unless you consider the heat death of the universe 'progress'.

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Except in the case of the human mind, which in its actuality turns back into potentiality. People now can alter DNA somewhat for instance, showing that this new actuality can affect the potentialities of previous steps. Humans, therefore, can affect their own actuality because they create potentialities.

Now you appear to be getting into the psychological mumbo jumbo territory. This is why your vague concepts of potentiality and actuality are dangerous, because they allow you to see whatever it is you want to see. In this case, you appear to me to be wanting to see the exaltation of human creativity as something 'divine' or at least 'special'.

Why bother coming up with some pseudoscientific justification for your ego needs? Why don't you just say "I think humans are special" and leave it at that?

Better yet, why not learn the actual science behind your perception of 'specialness' and then you'll much better be able to appreciate the true wonders of this universe, including human creativity among the many other things that are wonderous? I am not denying that human creativity is interesting, amazing, etc. I am denying that there's something 'special' or 'unique' or 'divine' about it that sets it apart from nature itself.

The whole impetus to see humans as 'special', known as anthropocentrism, is something I find rather dangerous. Giordano Bruno was tortured and burnt at the stake for it. Religion glories in it. And all it seems to do is hold us back from *true* understanding of our place in the universe.

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This has greater implications than just tinkering with DNA. It means if humans can create potentialities through the mind, which can be called imagination, then it also implies that man is a very special conduit in the universe.

Oops, there's that word! Special. Just as I suspected. I had missed that on my first reading of your post.

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On one end of the extreme lies pure actuality, which could be called the entire universe itself, all of reality that ever was and ever will be. Mankind lives here, creating from potentials new forms of ultimate actuality.

We are neither the beginning nor the end of the universe. We are not 'special'. We are not at the centre, we are not 'meant to be', we are not 'divine' or even 'semi-divine'. We just ARE. That's it.

That is our starting point. We ARE. What do we learn from this? Do we waste our lives glorifying ourselves above all else, like Narcissus?

No. The purpose of a child is not to remain a child, but to become an adult. We can maintain a child-like wonder, but we do not need to remain children. Our wonder should prompt us to explore and discover and learn, not languish in self-adoration.

Direct your human creativity to learning about the *real* universe, the one discovered by physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc.

Watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. Seriously. If anything, we are a fragile little race on a fragile little planet, with the power to blow ourselves to smithereens. Pumping our own egos is not going to change anything. In fact, that's the major source of our problems. We are amazing, yes. But we are not great. Not yet.

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Alright, first, my browser

Alright, first, my browser is Firefox, so I dunno how that works out...

And next to my first responder. Well, thank you for replying, even if it was a bit rash to assume much about me right off the bat...

Quote:
I'm not sure what you're getting at. It all seems rather vague and fuzzy. As if you're trying to see something that may or may not be there, so you're trying to discern the fuzzy outlines of something you think you see.

While it can be fun to speculate about things this way, unfortunately, that method of thinking is liable to get you to believe wacky things for no good reason. It is incredibly easy to fool people. And the easiest person to fool is yourself.

If you try very hard, you can see anything in anything. You can see the Virgin Mary in a tortilla, for example. If you convince yourself that what you are seeing is really there... then you have a problem.

In general, my advice to you is to learn more about science, especially physics. Vaguely, it seems like you are grasping at things that are better covered by Thermodynamics and Information Theory. I would recommend seriously trying to learn some real physics. Maybe buy a textbook. Maybe sign up for a class. Maybe search online. But study real physics, not pseudo-mystical stuff like Quantum New Age crap.

I will try to make the concept a little less 'vague'. Know that this was a copy from an opening and very brief explaination as to what my idea was. It is not the full idea in the least, and I have been debating it for some time now so as able to better define my terms.

Now, you assume I know little about science, or think I care little about it. You are dead wrong sir. I love science, and I know all about thermodynamics, entropy, biological systems, chemical reactions, and general physics. So please do not assume too much about me before you know me.

Finally, once I explain this better, you will see it is not pseudo-science, but more like a different perspective on things. New Age bullshit annoys me just as much as it annoys you, rest assured. So, lets get onto the response.

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What *precisely* do you mean by 'potential' and 'actual'? These are very vague concepts you use. Sometimes you use them in ways that seem to be the opposite of what I would have expected you to mean.

Alright, here we go. Precisely, potential I was getting at meaning that the options a substance has in being something higher up, and actual meaning the actual existence of that object or idea.

With my talk on matter and such, I know matter is mass, but it also takes up volume as well. So we are both right, but that is not the point. What I am trying to get at is a nested hierarchy system, which you should be familiar with in biology. In such a system, an atom is always matter, but matter is not always an atom, as matter can be other particles and such. So the Potential of matter is to be an atom, to be quarks, to be neutrons, and every other higher bit of matter.

You consider that 'more actual', but by this definition of reality, it isn't much there. Imagine holding 'matter' in your hand. It couldn't be an atom, cause that is higher up than 'matter'. So matter has a great deal of potential, to be an atom or what-not, but it is not an atom, so is less 'actualized'. It could be complexity perhaps.

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DNA can actually be a 'rock', in the sense that it can be crystallized. A single strand of DNA is actually much less complex than a star. It's even less complex than a rock. there is a lot of information in a star and in a rock, due to the vast number of atoms in them. The human genome, uncompressed, can fit on a single CD. That's only about 700 megabytes of information. The exact structure of a rock would entail vastly more information than that.

Ok, so complexity is not what I am getting at... Stars are made of mostly hydrogen and helium, so two types of atoms constantly being fused and turned into more atoms kinds. DNA acts a template to proteins, so has a much higher nested area than a star. It has a lower potential, as a star can become all the materials for a planet, while a DNA strand can make proteins. A lesser potential, but it is more actualized, more ordered.

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If you get sick and die, doesn't that seem to count as 'moving backwards' in terms of complexity/actuality? This is an important point to understand. There is no such thing as inevitable progress, unless you consider the heat death of the universe 'progress'.

Things die all the time. Biological systems tend to do that. Death would be a mechanism of converting actuality back into potential, as decay turns a body into mush, which in turn can become dirt or nutrients for another creature to be made from. Thanks for pointing that out, as I have been trying to find some good examples of that. Along with the 'heat death' and such, those are examples of counter movements towards potential again.

Its no more progress than if things keep on getting more and more complex. Evolution 'moves forward', but it isn't really going anywhere, as you know. No ultimate end really. But if there was one, it would be the 'ultimate organism', in which it would be so complex that all possiblities would be exhausted, which doesn't seem to ever happen, but its 'getting there'.

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Now you appear to be getting into the psychological mumbo jumbo territory. This is why your vague concepts of potentiality and actuality are dangerous, because they allow you to see whatever it is you want to see. In this case, you appear to me to be wanting to see the exaltation of human creativity as something 'divine' or at least 'special'.

Why bother coming up with some pseudoscientific justification for your ego needs? Why don't you just say "I think humans are special" and leave it at that?

Better yet, why not learn the actual science behind your perception of 'specialness' and then you'll much better be able to appreciate the true wonders of this universe, including human creativity among the many other things that are wonderous? I am not denying that human creativity is interesting, amazing, etc. I am denying that there's something 'special' or 'unique' or 'divine' about it that sets it apart from nature itself.

The whole impetus to see humans as 'special', known as anthropocentrism, is something I find rather dangerous. Giordano Bruno was tortured and burnt at the stake for it. Religion glories in it. And all it seems to do is hold us back from *true* understanding of our place in the universe.

Ok, I said that it is fun to use 'divine' language to describe an interesting idea. Einstein enjoyed calling the universe 'God' for instance. I am not actually talking divinities here in a supernatural sense.

Second, you assume again I am being egotistical. To appriciate one's ability to think is not being egotistical at all. And honestly, creativity is a special thing. I do not claim huamns are above everything else at all, as you assume I do. I do not claim humanity is the center of the universe, as you assume I do. I am merely saying humanity is an interesting case of being able to not only contemplate potenials (imagine things), but also act upon them and create complexity and meaning where there is none before.

We place meaning on these typed words for instance. What are they in reality? Just a bunch of electronic signals creating pixles on a screen to be white or black. Thats all 'this' is. But we attach meaning to it, as well as create 'this' by our own will. That is pretty damn special if you ask me, if not in a divine sense at all, but in an interesting and profound sense.

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We are neither the beginning nor the end of the universe. We are not 'special'. We are not at the centre, we are not 'meant to be', we are not 'divine' or even 'semi-divine'. We just ARE. That's it.

That is our starting point. We ARE. What do we learn from this? Do we waste our lives glorifying ourselves above all else, like Narcissus?

No. The purpose of a child is not to remain a child, but to become an adult. We can maintain a child-like wonder, but we do not need to remain children. Our wonder should prompt us to explore and discover and learn, not languish in self-adoration.

Direct your human creativity to learning about the *real* universe, the one discovered by physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc.

Watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. Seriously. If anything, we are a fragile little race on a fragile little planet, with the power to blow ourselves to smithereens. Pumping our own egos is not going to change anything. In fact, that's the major source of our problems. We are amazing, yes. But we are not great. Not yet.

I didn't say humans are the beginning or end, cause that would be ridiculous. The end of Potential would be to be basically nothing at all, which would have the most potential of anything. Likewise the other end would be having no potential, hence unable to take action. I said humans, like everything else in the universe, are in the middle, and since we can think, we can create from potentials via our own will, which gives us the ability to make meaning out of whatever we wish, and in the end that gives us a purpose which rocks and stars and most everything else do not have.

That is the epidemy of secularism. It eliminates that nasty overtone of meaninglessness that some have about life in general, equating it no more important than being a rock, and replaces it with the realization that we make our own meanings in life. To be nihilistic therefore is rather silly.

It does have other facets of interest that deduce from thinking about the concept, but right now I think I should let the ball pass back to whomever wants it. Sorry if the format goes crazy again, but I dont know how to work it yet.

Luminon
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I have just met a local

I have just met a local scientist, who does a work like this. He describes a crisis of the mechanistic universe, and researches a systemic thinking. A small translated excerpt from his work:

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The new look on reality is based on realization, that all phenomena - physical, chemical, biological, psychical, social and cultural - ae basically connected and mutually interrelated. The systemic worldview observes the world with emphasis on relations and integration. Systems are integrated wholes, who's properties can't be reduced on properties of smaller units. Systemic learning is focused on basic organizing principles, instead of basic building blocks and basic substances. Systemic thinking means a thinking in processes.

As a complex system, we can imagine either living organisms, society of living beings, human society and it's products (capital market, for example) or parts of non-living nature (weather, for example). These systems works based on a dynamic principle of self-organization.

The mechanistic worldview seems to have a skeleton in closet, called "cathegory of problems without technical solution". His research could help to solve the mechanistic crisis.

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RatDog
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try this

Quote:

Alright, first, my browser is Firefox, so I dunno how that works out...

I had a problem using Firefox when I pasted things from Word.

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post links to other peoples stuff, but I'm sure some one will tell me if I'm not.

Hambydammit wrote this.  I think you would find it interesting.

Free Will: Why we don't have it, and why that's a good thing.

BobSpence
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Ead wrote:With my talk on

With my talk on matter and such, I know matter is mass, but it also takes up volume as well. So we are both right, but that is not the point. What I am trying to get at is a nested hierarchy system, which you should be familiar with in biology. In such a system, an atom is always matter, but matter is not always an atom, as matter can be other particles and such. So the Potential of matter is to be an atom, to be quarks, to be neutrons, and every other higher bit of matter.

Modern particle physics experiments indicate that the electron is a point particle. It is matter, it has mass, but no volume.

Atoms, and all 'higher' accretions of matter, are all composed of assemblage of electrons, protons, and neutrons, so the only difference is the structure, the pattern in which the basic particles are arranged. The fundamental particles are always there in any matter, no matter how it is assembled, nothing is being 'transformed', matter is always an assembly of fundamental particles, just in different quantities and arrangements.

Under specific conditions, fundamental particles can transform. Electrons protons and neutrons are very stable, but in high energy collisions, neutrons and protons can be decomposed into their component quarks and reassemble into different particles.

But this is not what is happening between sub-atomic particles and atoms, or atoms and big molecules. If we simply examine that molecule of DNA at progressively higher resolution, we see the atoms, then the component electrons neutrons and protons, then the quarks... DNA is still ultimately composed of sub-atomic particles, its just a question of the scale at which you look at it.

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You consider that 'more actual', but by this definition of reality, it isn't much there. Imagine holding 'matter' in your hand. It couldn't be an atom, cause that is higher up than 'matter'. So matter has a great deal of potential, to be an atom or what-not, but it is not an atom, so is less 'actualized'. It could be complexity perhaps.

If you are holding it in your hand, it is a collection of atoms, so it is also matter.

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<snip>

Its no more progress than if things keep on getting more and more complex. Evolution 'moves forward', but it isn't really going anywhere, as you know. No ultimate end really. But if there was one, it would be the 'ultimate organism', in which it would be so complex that all possiblities would be exhausted, which doesn't seem to ever happen, but its 'getting there'.

As you say evolution doesn't actually move forward, it just tends to expand to fill all available niches, and then pretty much just drifts, until something happens to shake up the environment, whether it be major climate change, big natural event - mega volcano, asteroid impact, sea-level change, etc. Filling available niches can also involve 'devolution', loss of attributes, such as species that occupy caves, which lose organs of sight, and generally become simpler, because they have little or competing species.

There is no indication that it is going anywhere, that there is any reason to expect significant increase in complexity. That would only happen if there was some unique environment where complexity gave a major edge, otherwise the pattern seems to be that the simplest organism that can occupy a particular niche is what we ultimately end up with.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

deludedgod
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Quote:electron is a point

Quote:

electron is a point particle

...Under certain conditions.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Ead wrote:And next to my

And next to my first responder. Well, thank you for replying, even if it was a bit rash to assume much about me right off the bat...

I apologize if I came off as assuming, but two things: 1) If you go back and read your first post, it is rather vague and does appear to make basic errors about science, 2) I did not actually assume much about you; I reacted to first appearances and prefaced my remarks with 'it appears', and 'it seems to me', etc.

With that misunderstanding out of the way, I still have some issues with what you *appear* to be saying.

First, I'm glad to hear you take science seriously. That erases a lot of my initial misgivings.

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Alright, here we go. Precisely, potential I was getting at meaning that the options a substance has in being something higher up, and actual meaning the actual existence of that object or idea.

Two things here: First, 'higher up' is again vague. This is a notoriously difficult problem in science, to specify which thing is 'higher' than some other thing in terms of complexity or whatever it is you're trying to indicate. To say that 'potential' is a measure of ability to become 'higher up' doesn't resolve the ambiguity of the word.

Second, 'potential' and 'actual' as you use them has intentionality implied within it. This is a hidden assumption which in my view throws a wrench in the works. To say that 'potential' means it has the capability of becoming some 'actual' is disguising the act of imagination that takes place when you use those words.

What I'm saying is that your personal imagination is contaminating the words so that they cannot have a precise meaning.

E.g. You imagine that a star has more 'potential' than DNA, because a star can create worlds, elements, etc. and DNA can only create proteins. But I imagine that if you had enough DNA, it could condense into a star and have just as much potential as another star to create some world far in the future.

So, I look at 'potential' as vague, because any matter can literally be transformed into any other matter or into energy. E = mc^2.

To say that a thing has inherent potential seems to me to imply that there is some agent which can imagine that potential. A child imagines becoming an astronaut, and eventually 'actually' becomes one. But a star doesn't imagine becoming anything. It doesn't know what its potential is. So, what *does* know the potential? If the only thing that knows the potential of something like a star is some mind apart from the star, then the star itself does not have inherent 'potential' as part of its inherent nature.

There is no *inherent* 'potential' in any particular thing. All forms are interchangeable, given the right circumstances. You cannot specify a measurement of 'potential'.

That being said, I do get the *gist* of what you're trying to say. You alluded to DNA being more 'ordered', for example.

The best analog to your concept that I've seen or come up with is a generalized 'intelligence' or 'predictive power'. Another way of putting this might be 'stability'. This is to say that a human mind is more intelligent because of its ability to make predictions for its own benefit, and so can avoid destruction where 'lesser' intelligences would not be able to adapt. A human can dodge out of the way of a falling rock, and a rock can be crushed by a human with a hammer.

DNA adapts in ways that stars do not. Is this what you mean?

The universe appears to have a tendency (not inevitable) towards developing more 'stable' systems, i.e. ones that are more difficult to disrupt, and so could be considered more 'intelligent' in a very generalized sense of the word.

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With my talk on matter and such, I know matter is mass, but it also takes up volume as well. So we are both right, but that is not the point. What I am trying to get at is a nested hierarchy system, which you should be familiar with in biology. In such a system, an atom is always matter, but matter is not always an atom, as matter can be other particles and such. So the Potential of matter is to be an atom, to be quarks, to be neutrons, and every other higher bit of matter.

Again, an atom can become neutrons, or quarks, or any lower bit of matter. There is no inherent reason to assume a single direction.

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Ok, so complexity is not what I am getting at... Stars are made of mostly hydrogen and helium, so two types of atoms constantly being fused and turned into more atoms kinds. DNA acts a template to proteins, so has a much higher nested area than a star. It has a lower potential, as a star can become all the materials for a planet, while a DNA strand can make proteins. A lesser potential, but it is more actualized, more ordered.

All you are really talking about is transformation of structures of matter. The structure of matter is better known as 'information'. So you are talking about transformation of information into one form or another. It can go in both directions. It can go sideways. Aside from entropy, there's no inherent reason why DNA couldn't become a star which later supernovas and becomes DNA.

The transformation of information is known as a 'process'. This I believe is the key concept to focus on.

A human in the vacuum of space is not very stable because the environment is critical to the process of life and evolution which your concept of 'actualized' relates to. There is nothing inherent in the human that makes him actualized or not. The human must participate in a process (e.g. metabolism, cognition, procreation) in order to remain 'actualized'. So, 'actual' and 'potential' do not relate to matter and energy, they relate to information and processes.

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Second, you assume again I am being egotistical. To appriciate one's ability to think is not being egotistical at all. And honestly, creativity is a special thing. I do not claim huamns are above everything else at all, as you assume I do. I do not claim humanity is the center of the universe, as you assume I do. I am merely saying humanity is an interesting case of being able to not only contemplate potenials (imagine things), but also act upon them and create complexity and meaning where there is none before.

We place meaning on these typed words for instance. What are they in reality? Just a bunch of electronic signals creating pixles on a screen to be white or black. Thats all 'this' is. But we attach meaning to it, as well as create 'this' by our own will. That is pretty damn special if you ask me, if not in a divine sense at all, but in an interesting and profound sense.

Okay, you're saying "Humans are creative, and I think that's special." Okay. And?

Where do you go from here? If that is the end-point of the observation, then I maintain that it is ego-tripping. If it's not the end, then what do you draw from it?

Again, I'm not downplaying human creativity or anything like that. I also exalt in it. But I don't stop there. I think it is irresponsible to stop there. Too many people have said, "Humans are so great! Now let's wallow in our greatness while the world falls apart." I'm asking you, What tangible outcomes do you draw from this philosophy you've so far presented?

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I didn't say humans are the beginning or end, cause that would be ridiculous. The end of Potential would be to be basically nothing at all, which would have the most potential of anything. Likewise the other end would be having no potential, hence unable to take action. I said humans, like everything else in the universe, are in the middle, and since we can think, we can create from potentials via our own will, which gives us the ability to make meaning out of whatever we wish, and in the end that gives us a purpose which rocks and stars and most everything else do not have.

How is this different than saying that the universe started as a singularity and will end in heat death?

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That is the epidemy of secularism. It eliminates that nasty overtone of meaninglessness that some have about life in general, equating it no more important than being a rock, and replaces it with the realization that we make our own meanings in life. To be nihilistic therefore is rather silly.

There's no need to postulate some 'special purpose' humans have. Animals (minds, more specifically), after all are the creators of meaning and purpose itself. I avoid the trap of anthropocentrism by focusing on what we *do* experience, and what we *do* know. We simply face the Unknown, and we wonder. That's all that is necessary to escape the Nihilistic Pit. We want to know, and so we seek out knowledge.

(How we come to know things is another topic. My answer for that one is Pragmatism.)

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It does have other facets of interest that deduce from thinking about the concept, but right now I think I should let the ball pass back to whomever wants it. Sorry if the format goes crazy again, but I dont know how to work it yet.

My skeptical stance is not intended to belittle you or shut you down, or anything like that. Really, I'm just trying to cut to the chase to see where we can agree and where we disagree. I do not intend to 'assume' anything about you, although I may venture down paths based on my perceptions of what I think you're saying. I do have pretty strong opinions about certain topics, though, and I make no apologies about it. Just don't take anything I say personally.

So far, I see potential in your system (pun intended). I see possible parallels with my own ideas about prediction, complexity, etc. So, we may end up coming out of this more in agreement than not. There are just a few things that are sticky issues for me (so far, at least).

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See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascendency and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stability_theory for two information-theory related ideas that apply to life and evolution. There was an article somewhere that provided a thermodynamical explanation for life/evolution, but I can't seem to find it. I think it involved Stability Theory. I wish I could remember where I saw it.

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Ead; One particular aspect

Ead; One particular aspect of all you've written here is hierarchy . "Higher" and "lower" and "special". You have to be careful with that because hierarchy and order are concepts we impose on the universe. Essentially, order is an illusion caused by minds that evolved to seek out patterns.

Hierarchy is something social species use to maintain a sense of order in their troupe or herd or flock. It's easier to live as a group if everyone has some idea of where they fit into it. That idea can be extended to give a sense of where the group fits in with everything else. The only problem being that the idea is subjective - there is no objective hierarchy.

I hope I'm being clear here - I really should resist posting when tired

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray

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JillSwift wrote:

Ead; One particular aspect of all you've written here is hierarchy . "Higher" and "lower" and "special". You have to be careful with that because hierarchy and order are concepts we impose on the universe. Essentially, order is an illusion caused by minds that evolved to seek out patterns.

Hierarchy is something social species use to maintain a sense of order in their troupe or herd or flock. It's easier to live as a group if everyone has some idea of where they fit into it. That idea can be extended to give a sense of where the group fits in with everything else. The only problem being that the idea is subjective - there is no objective hierarchy.

I hope I'm being clear here - I really should resist posting when tired

I wouldn't go so far as to say that there are no such things as objective hierarchies. Ant colonies are objectively hierarchical with the queen at the apex. The human neocortex is architecturally hierarchical, with the low-level visual system feeding into the higher level visual system. Other sensory systems are also hierarchical, such as auditory. Galaxies are hierarchical with moons around planets around stars around clusters around a giant black hole. Food chains are hierarchical.

My point is not so much that hierarchy doesn't actually exist, but rather that hierarchies are neither inevitable nor permanent, only temporarily stable, and can be disrupted. Also that it's not so easy to say one part of a hierarchy is actually 'higher' than some other part, rather than merely organized at a more-dependent position in the hierarchy. For example, the queen ant is not somehow 'higher' than the worker ants, she's just organized as the most centralized. You wouldn't say the black hole at the centre of the galaxy is somehow 'higher' than the Sun, for example. It just happens to be the thing at the centre.

Likewise with part-to-whole. It's not so easy to make a solid case that the whole galaxy is somehow 'higher' in some way compared to our solar system alone.

I too should avoid posting when tired....

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natural wrote:I wouldn't go

natural wrote:
I wouldn't go so far as to say that there are no such things as objective hierarchies. Ant colonies are objectively hierarchical with the queen at the apex. The human neocortex is architecturally hierarchical, with the low-level visual system feeding into the higher level visual system. Other sensory systems are also hierarchical, such as auditory. Galaxies are hierarchical with moons around planets around stars around clusters around a giant black hole. Food chains are hierarchical.

My point is not so much that hierarchy doesn't actually exist, but rather that hierarchies are neither inevitable nor permanent, only temporarily stable, and can be disrupted. Also that it's not so easy to say one part of a hierarchy is actually 'higher' than some other part, rather than merely organized at a more-dependent position in the hierarchy. For example, the queen ant is not somehow 'higher' than the worker ants, she's just organized as the most centralized. You wouldn't say the black hole at the centre of the galaxy is somehow 'higher' than the Sun, for example. It just happens to be the thing at the centre.

Likewise with part-to-whole. It's not so easy to make a solid case that the whole galaxy is somehow 'higher' in some way compared to our solar system alone.

I too should avoid posting when tired....

Heh. Systems can be described as hierarchies, but because we can't really objectively call the queen bee "higher", I don't think we can call the hive an objective hierarchy. Which is why I feel I can say there's not really any such thing as a hierarchy, it's just the human mind using its own sense of social order to understand its surroundings.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray

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If you don't mind a slight

If you don't mind a slight change of direction, this OP reminds me a bit of Daniel Dennett's "Library of Babel."  If you're not familiar with it, he constructs a hypothetical library that contains every possible book of a certain length, including all the nonsense.  That is, if the length of a book is a hundred thousand characters, then the library contains every possible combination of characters that could be contained in a book of a hundred thousand characters.

He uses this as an analog for evolution, but it works for matter, too.  Suppose we start going down one aisle, the aisle marked "3."  In this particular aisle, every book starts with the letter 3.  The thing is, each book spawns a huge number of new aisles.  So, if we find a book where the first two characters are "3k" there will be a new aisle beginning at that point which contains all the possible books beginning with "3k."  Obviously, three dimensional space would be unable to contain this library, but we can imagine as many dimensions as we need to make it work.

Perhaps you can think of this as a working analog for "potential."  That is, there is an astronomically large number of things that a particular particle could be in theoretical space, but in the real universe, the number of actual things it could be are quite limited.  Also, as we progress farther and farther into potential space, the number of options reduces drastically.  Suppose we have reached the end of a particular journey through the library, and we are 99,999 characters through.  At this point, there are only fifty or so possible ways to go, since there is only one character left.  The analogy for evolution is very clear.  Evolution limits itself by what it has already become.  This is why frogs don't give birth to giraffes.  The genome can only change so much between generations.  Its physical potential is far, far less than its theoretical potential.

I don't know how useful this analogy is for matter itself, but maybe it's a good way to visualize the difference between theoretical potential and physical potential.  This might rein in some of the more woo-woo implications of your philosophy.

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JillSwift wrote:Heh.

JillSwift wrote:

Heh. Systems can be described as hierarchies, but because we can't really objectively call the queen bee "higher", I don't think we can call the hive an objective hierarchy. Which is why I feel I can say there's not really any such thing as a hierarchy, it's just the human mind using its own sense of social order to understand its surroundings.

I think you're missing my point. A hierarchy is how something is organized. Hierarchies have a tree-like organization with one element which links to other elements which link to still more elements, in a branching fashion. These kinds of organizations objectively exist.

But it is a further step to say that the most basic/root element is 'higher' in some way. That would be a subjective value judgment. Like saying the King is 'better' than his subjects, just because he happens to occupy the king position in the hierarchy. Such a judgment is invalid. But saying that this judgment is invalid doesn't mean the King isn't actually part of a hierarchy. He most certainly is. It just doesn't make him 'special' in any way.

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natural wrote:I think you're

natural wrote:
I think you're missing my point. A hierarchy is how something is organized. Hierarchies have a tree-like organization with one element which links to other elements which link to still more elements, in a branching fashion. These kinds of organizations objectively exist.

But it is a further step to say that the most basic/root element is 'higher' in some way. That would be a subjective value judgment. Like saying the King is 'better' than his subjects, just because he happens to occupy the king position in the hierarchy. Such a judgment is invalid. But saying that this judgment is invalid doesn't mean the King isn't actually part of a hierarchy. He most certainly is. It just doesn't make him 'special' in any way.

I think we're talking about different definitions. A hierarchy requires that the system be described subjectively as some parts being more important than others. Without that subjective aspect, it's just a system.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray

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Thank you all for

Thank you all for responding. Honestly, constructive criticism is a good thing, which I thank you guys for. I haven't been doing a very good job explaining it so far, but hopefully I will get better as time goes on.

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If you don't mind a slight change of direction, this OP reminds me a bit of Daniel Dennett's "Library of Babel."  If you're not familiar with it, he constructs a hypothetical library that contains every possible book of a certain length, including all the nonsense.  That is, if the length of a book is a hundred thousand characters, then the library contains every possible combination of characters that could be contained in a book of a hundred thousand characters.

Thank you so much! That was what I was trying to explain with potential, though my analogies were not as good. So, when I was talking about matter and atoms and such, I wasn't trying to get stuck on the specifics of quantum physics, but trying to explain this kind of potential system shown above. Potential itself would be the entrance to the library, and then we would go down an aisle of energy, then turn to matter, then to atoms, then so on. Each one gets more specific, and they branch off all over the place. The potential for new branches goes down automatically with each new aisle or level of specification, as in this direction atoms can be made into DNA itself, but DNA itself (the total structure itself) cannot become an atom (unless disintegrated, which happens too, but this philosophy deals mostly with the motion towards the lesser potentials).

Alright, hopefully with Dennett's analogy (thank you Hambydammit for showing that!), what I mean by potential will be a little more clear.

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Atoms, and all 'higher' accretions of matter, are all composed of assemblage of electrons, protons, and neutrons, so the only difference is the structure, the pattern in which the basic particles are arranged. The fundamental particles are always there in any matter, no matter how it is assembled, nothing is being 'transformed', matter is always an assembly of fundamental particles, just in different quantities and arrangements.

Thank you for pointing that out. I knew that already, but what I was meaning was that in the 'forward direction' (towards lesser potential), the subatomic particles all have the potential to become an atom, but an atom cannot lessen its potential by becoming subatomic particles again (that would increase potential again). Same with atoms and DNA, and DNA and proteins, and neurons and brains, and so on. I hope that makes sense again...

But my point is just that idea, not about the specifics of quantum mechanics, because that is currently above my head and beside the point of this idea.

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Two things here: First, 'higher up' is again vague. This is a notoriously difficult problem in science, to specify which thing is 'higher' than some other thing in terms of complexity or whatever it is you're trying to indicate. To say that 'potential' is a measure of ability to become 'higher up' doesn't resolve the ambiguity of the word.

Second, 'potential' and 'actual' as you use them has intentionality implied within it. This is a hidden assumption which in my view throws a wrench in the works. To say that 'potential' means it has the capability of becoming some 'actual' is disguising the act of imagination that takes place when you use those words.

Ok, the first point might be better explained now. Eventually we will hammer it out into something specific enough. I have it very specific in my head, but I can't easily put it into words, but we are getting there. As for the second, it may be possible to drop the 'actual' from the idea, as more 'actual' is what I call things with less potential. But, I like to keep it in there because 'actual' is reality, because actualized or 'real' objects exist because potential has at some point decreased.

As with stars and such, the idea of a star as something complex is right in a certain sense of 'complex'. By your definition of complex, a great big finger painting of a kitty cat would, if big enough, trump the complexity of the Mona Lisa due to having more matter in it.  I am not denying it is bigger, but the star has more potential than the DNA strand in terms of how many things it can become in going down the potential slope. A tiny thing could have less potential than a huge thing, but the small thing is still more 'actualized' (having less potential) than the big general thing.

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To say that a thing has inherent potential seems to me to imply that there is some agent which can imagine that potential. A child imagines becoming an astronaut, and eventually 'actually' becomes one. But a star doesn't imagine becoming anything. It doesn't know what its potential is. So, what *does* know the potential? If the only thing that knows the potential of something like a star is some mind apart from the star, then the star itself does not have inherent 'potential' as part of its inherent nature.

A good point. Isn't it like the riddle: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? But lets say people are the agents you talk of for this purpose. Yes, people assign meaning to things, because that is what we do naturally. We are good at it too. However, regardless of whether or not a person is there to think about the potentials of a star, it still has those potentials. No person, and lets assume no agents capable of such thought, were around at the beginning of the universe where the greatest potential was present. But those potentials were traveled down upon, creating stars and planets and little interesting agents like people, who can look at it and call that process 'potential'. We don't need to be present in order for something to occur, in short.

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Okay, you're saying "Humans are creative, and I think that's special." Okay. And?

Where do you go from here? If that is the end-point of the observation, then I maintain that it is ego-tripping. If it's not the end, then what do you draw from it?

Again, I'm not downplaying human creativity or anything like that. I also exalt in it. But I don't stop there. I think it is irresponsible to stop there. Too many people have said, "Humans are so great! Now let's wallow in our greatness while the world falls apart." I'm asking you, What tangible outcomes do you draw from this philosophy you've so far presented?

Thank you for asking. Ok, so people have brains, structures able to assign meaning and interpret and imagine and allow for creating things. That is a boon, but if that is all it is, then like you said, for what end? Well, people can imagine potentials, which is basically what imagination is in the first place. We can contemplate the potentials, and actually affect them (albeit on a small scale).

For an analogy, people have been for thousands of years building dams and altering the flow of rivers for their own purposes. The regular flow of this river system is to keep on going down that regular path of the river bed, but people being free agents are able to divert that flow elsewhere for other purposes due to the ability of our minds to imagine and then create in reality (with the help of our bodies and tools) those dams.

So, to bring that idea back to the whole picture of man's place in the universe, we have the ability to not only create meaning, but we have the means of directing potential, in either direction and in multiple areas beyond what normally objects in our 'tier' in space can (We can affect planets as well as atoms, not just rocks now).

That is an even greater boon, but still doesn't mean much, because a star has as much or more power to affect things around it (though as far as we know it has no choice in the matter). But because we have minds capable of the thoughts and abilities I said before, the result is twofold.

First, it affirms a free will, because the system of the mind, being able to actively alter potentials unlike rocks and DNA, can choose what it does. Fate is merely the procession of potentials through time, and we can affect our own at the very least due to our minds.

Second, it affirms our inherent responsibility to act. Unlike rocks and DNA and such, which lack minds and hence do not have much choice in what they do, we do have the minds which allow us to not only create and destroy but to choose what we do. By realizing this, we learn that we must act responsibly because we have the ability to. Freedom requires responsibility in order to be worth anything at all.

So, it does have some benefits arising from the idea. Like I said before, it removes rather effectively removes the 'Nihilistic Pit' by showing man creates his own meanings in life. It gains an interesting view of different agents in the system of potentials (as I am sure many differing agents exist, working many different ways with potentials). It gives an explanation to free will that doesn't involve Gods or 'Man's specialness' (though honestly, brains are neat structures, though no more special than rocks or stars or water). It requires responsibility of people based on their nature instead of supernatural requirements or higher authorities. And I am sure more ideas can come from it if we think about it some more. But hopefully that should confirm that it is not just a fun mental game to play (though it is that too).

Oh, also, it is a rational logical ideal that can potentially work with religions as well in the sense that people who are religious or not could perhaps agree on it, which would be VERY helpful should we all were can pound out the kinks in the idea. It is very malleable past the pretty simple concept, which doesn't deduct from its value but actually increases it.

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How is this different than saying that the universe started as a singularity and will end in heat death?

Well, mostly people have been thinking all things are doomed to fall apart to entropy, heat, greater potentials. But if humans exist, which are agents capible of operating under the potentials in different ways, then most likely there are other agents that operate in other ways. Not necessarily 'intelligent' at all, but able to counteract the 'heat death' hypothesis. Now, that will take more exploration by scientific means, and we cannot assume such a thing exists, but we still have a great deal to explore, so it grants the possibility for such a thing to exist. It would make the whole system of the universe much more eloquent, but that doesn't necessarily make it real.

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There's no need to postulate some 'special purpose' humans have. Animals (minds, more specifically), after all are the creators of meaning and purpose itself. I avoid the trap of anthropocentrism by focusing on what we *do* experience, and what we *do* know. We simply face the Unknown, and we wonder. That's all that is necessary to escape the Nihilistic Pit. We want to know, and so we seek out knowledge.

I tried to make sure I didn't say people have a 'special purpose', as if something outside ourselves assigns such a thing. I said people make our own purposes, and we assign our own meanings to whatever we wish. If we wish to not have a meaning, then we have none. But if we do, then we have one (or many).

I think we do more than just 'face the unknown and wonder'. A rock would do the same (except wondering, because I don't think it can do that...). How about we face the unknown, we wonder, we come to understand, and we create? Because people do that constantly, and it is what we do best honestly.

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My skeptical stance is not intended to belittle you or shut you down, or anything like that. Really, I'm just trying to cut to the chase to see where we can agree and where we disagree. I do not intend to 'assume' anything about you, although I may venture down paths based on my perceptions of what I think you're saying. I do have pretty strong opinions about certain topics, though, and I make no apologies about it. Just don't take anything I say personally.

So far, I see potential in your system (pun intended). I see possible parallels with my own ideas about prediction, complexity, etc. So, we may end up coming out of this more in agreement than not. There are just a few things that are sticky issues for me (so far, at least).

Yes, I see that. Sorry if I was reactionary beforehand, because I am not used to criticisms. In all matters of fact, it is great that I have critics, because it means I can improve this idea, make it more clear and easier to understand. I hope we can come to agree by the end of this, because I think once all hammered out, everyone should be able to agree with it using a logical process of thought. At least that is my hope. It will be fun moving towards that final actualization of it, right?

Again, thank you all for responding, and I appreciate all the responses even if I was unable to get to them.

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JillSwift wrote:I think

JillSwift wrote:
I think we're talking about different definitions. A hierarchy requires that the system be described subjectively as some parts being more important than others. Without that subjective aspect, it's just a system.

You're right, we definitely are. As a software developer, I deal with hierarchically organized systems and data structures all the time, and for me the important part is the organization and how that affects the resulting nature of the system. Hierarchical systems are objectively different than linear systems or peer-to-peer networked systems, for example. The subjective judgment part is completely irrelevant to me.

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Okay, I'm seeing a lot of

Okay, I'm seeing a lot of similarities with my own philosophy now. I think it will be a fruitful exchange for both of us. You've introduced the concept of potential/actual, which I've heard thrown about in some prior discussions here and there, but haven't discussed before, so it should be interesting for me. I'm going to introduce my concepts of prediction, intelligence, and stability, and see how you deal with them.

I still have at least two major issues with what you've proposed so far. Briefly, they are the concept of directionality, and what I perceive of as a lack of an ability to motivate to specific action. I'll explain inline below.

Potential itself would be the entrance to the library, and then we would go down an aisle of energy, then turn to matter, then to atoms, then so on. Each one gets more specific, and they branch off all over the place. The potential for new branches goes down automatically with each new aisle or level of specification, as in this direction atoms can be made into DNA itself, but DNA itself (the total structure itself) cannot become an atom (unless disintegrated, which happens too, but this philosophy deals mostly with the motion towards the lesser potentials).

It is this directionality towards lesser potentials that concerns me. As I alluded to previously, it is a notoriously difficult problem in physics. About the only thing that has been shown conclusively to have an inevitable directionality is the continual accumulation of entropy in a closed system.

But as far as I can tell, your potentiality/actuality directionality is not specifically concerned with entropy. Am I correct?

If you're not talking about entropy, then I'm going to challenge any implication of directionality that you make.

Just to be clear, I'll explain entropy a bit. The best simple explanation I've heard for it is 'the amount of unusable energy in a system'. You can imagine a bucket into which energy can be placed. But any time you put energy in the bucket, it is stuck there forever and cannot be reused. The energy remains in the system, it is just stuck in an unusable state. Any interaction within the system will either maintain the balance of usable energy, or some portion of that usable energy will be lost as entropy. Thus, a closed system is like a watch that will always and eventually wind down until it stops. There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine which can continue operating forever.

So, you can see that the continual accumulation of entropy means that a closed system is constantly losing some of its freedom. You could say that it is losing its 'potential'. Likewise, it is constantly accumulating entropy, and so you could say that it is becoming more and more 'actual'.

Is this what you mean by potential/actual? If so, then I'd again say that you're really just talking about thermodynamics and information theory, as I did in my first response.

However, it appears to me that this is *not* exactly what you mean, because you're not talking about closed systems, you're talking about objects made of matter, which may be part of an open system. An open system is gaining and/or losing energy from/to an outside source/sink. The Earth is an open system due to the massive fusion reactor that bathes the Earth in energy, known as the Sun.

You appear to me to be saying that even in an open system there is some sort of inevitable directionality from 'potentiality' towards 'actuality'. I challenge that. I don't think it can be demonstrated or supported.

Even if you don't claim this, there is another thing which I would challenge, namely the idea that once a thing has lost potential, it is somehow stuck on an particular path. For example, you keep talking about DNA, and how it makes proteins, but can't make new elements. But as I've argued, if you put enough DNA together such that it was massive enough to start its own fusion reaction, then DNA could indeed create new elements.

Another example is if you put DNA in a particle collider, you could generate all sorts of things that a sun might not (Higgs boson, for example).

Even Borges' Library of Babel that Hambydammit brought up is not necessarily a good example. If I go down the aisle "It was a dark and stormy night", then the remaining books will all start with that phrase. But in reality, I could 'jump sideways' and jump to "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", or I could only switch one of the words with "It was a dark and steamy night". Which one of these has more or less potential? how do you explain the transformation from one to the other?

It seems to me that these sideways transformations do not involve potentiality or actuality at all. And yet, these might be crucial transformations.

Going back to DNA, if you have a string of DNA that encodes for a protein, and you mutate a single nucleotide in the DNA, the resulting mutation could have a beneficial, deleterious, or completely neutral effect on the organism. How does potentiality/actuality deal with that situation? It seems to me that the concept is powerless to illuminate this extremely common type of scenario.

Entropy is also limited in this way, and cannot directly explain evolution, for example.

So, to sum up: Potentiality/actuality is really talking about transformations. But transformations can go 'up', 'down', 'sideways', or 'completely unexpected', with no particular rules governing one way or the other (with the general exception of entropy for the entire closed system). There is *no* inherent directionality in potentiality/actuality.

Now, it may seem a little pedantic, but I'm going to quote you every time you imply that there's an inherent directionality. The only purpose is to illustrate that you need to defend these claims.

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Thank you for pointing that out. I knew that already, but what I was meaning was that in the 'forward direction' (towards lesser potential)

There is no 'forward direction'.

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the subatomic particles all have the potential to become an atom, but an atom cannot lessen its potential by becoming subatomic particles again

Yes it can, it's called nuclear fission, and it happens spontaneously all the time.

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, but the star has more potential than the DNA strand in terms of how many things it can become in going down the potential slope.

The star and DNA have the same potential. DNA can become stars and stars can become DNA. It's all a matter of transformation.

And there is no 'slope' of potentiality. That would imply inherent directionality.

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No person, and lets assume no agents capable of such thought, were around at the beginning of the universe where the greatest potential was present.

The universe now has as much potential as the universe at the beginning. Since we don't know everything about physics, it still remains a possibility that the universe could collapse into a singularity again, which means it could then explode into a completely different universe billions of years from now.

Alternatively, our universe might somehow collide with a parallel universe (or a neighbouring universe in a multiverse) and change overnight in completely random ways. This would be a 'sideways' transformation.

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Okay, I think that covers my primary objection. The directionality you place on potential/actual is in your imagination. It isn't really there. Things can transform up, down, back, front, inside out, backwards, and completely randomly. We happen to be in an expanding universe that started as a singularity and appears to be headed towards heat death, but that's just our current situation. Things could change drastically in the future, and some day some alien philosopher might say "See, the universe is contracting down towards a singularity, which means there's an inherent directionality from 'actuality' up to 'potentiality'."

Now I'll introduce my concepts.

It seems to me that throughout evolution on Earth there's been a tendency toward greater and greater 'intelligence'. But what I mean by 'intelligence' is not what we typically mean in everyday English. It means something more akin to 'stability' or 'adaptability'. I only use the word intelligence because it somehow parallels human intelligence.

For example, one human might be attacked by a lion and not be able to defend himself. Another human might be able to climb up a tree to get away. It makes some sense to say that the latter acted more intelligently than the former.

Likewise, one bacteria might be killed by a particular antibiotic. Another bacteria might have a mutation that gives it immunity to the antibiotic, and so it survives. Somehow this seems to me to be a parallel situation, where it makes sense to say that the latter bacteria has a more intelligent complement of genes than the former.

Human intelligence can therefore be seen as a specialization of this general notion of 'intelligence'. The human brain is able to make accurate predictions and thus 'see' the future. It can use these predictions to achieve better outcomes than if it were ignorant of the likely future. Thus, a brain that can make better predictions is more 'intelligent' (in the general sense) than a brain which only makes mediocre predictions.

So, to me, intelligence is not something limited to humans, or even to brains. It is something general that applies to any system that maintains its own survival or 'stability'.

For example, I'm completely open to the idea of artificial intelligence, or intelligent machines. Also, I'm open to discovering aliens who possess intelligence which is completely distinct from our human intelligence. The only factor would be how well they are able to maintain themselves compared to us.

For example, I can imagine an alien life form that comes to Earth and is able to outcompete us, taking over the planet. But maybe this alien form is made of many small individuals, where each individual is actually not as intelligent as an individual human, but collectively they are more intelligent (e.g. by cooperating better than we do).

So again, when I talk about intelligence, I'm talking about a generalized ability, not necessarily human or brain powered.

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When we look over the history of life, we see this tendency towards greater and greater intelligence.

You see a series of stages of growth and diversification and specialization, and then a major extinction happens and it wipes out most of the 'intelligent' forms. Then the next stage of growth and diversification happens and these forms seem to be even more intelligent than the previous. And then *they* are killed by a major extinction, etc. So it is not an inevitable progress, just a general tendency. There always seem to be major extinctions that wipe away most of the previous progress.

First there were soft-bodied animals. Then the Cambrian explosion saw the introduction of hard body parts, and this was more 'intelligent'. We saw a variety of 'weapons' and 'armour' develop. Then a major extinction, but the survivors kept their weapons and armour, and we saw a variety of body plans emerge leading to the fish, who seem more intelligent than the trilobyte, for example. Then the fish adapted for land, and we got eventually got the dinosaurs. But then another extinction and most of the dinosaurs died off, except the birds which had flight and feathers and smaller bodies which seems more intelligent, considering the cold that they had to survive.

And the mammals came forth, and gave rise to humans, who have their own distinct human intelligence. And it seems to me, that if there's going to be another mass extinction (and there already is, actually), that humans will be one of the species likely to survive (if we don't fuck up the environment too bad). And that's how greater and greater intelligence seems to accumulate.

Now, I'm not ignoring our more humble bacterial intelligence. If anything, you could make a good case that they are even MORE intelligent than we are. If humans go extinct, I'm sure there will still be bacteria alive and thriving. Like the aliens I mentioned above, an individual bacterium may not be that intelligent, but collectively they are much more adaptable and stable than we are, when faced with things like giant meteors striking the Earth.

====

So, I think you can see the similarity with your idea of potentiality/actuality. It is not a direct analog, but when you speak of greater actuality, I'm reminded of greater intelligence. Greater ability to react to situations to maintain stability. In the case of humans, greater ability to predict the future. You can even extend my concept outside of the domain of life and to the rest of the universe. The first atoms were disorganized and flying around randomly. They condensed into massive clouds and attained a greater stability. They got too massive and started to collapse, but triggered nuclear fusion reactions to maintain an outward pressure, and hence maintain stability.

Eventually, the first stars died, but in doing so, passed on some of their 'intelligence' (in the form of new elements) to the next generation of stars, which now had clumps of matter around them. These clumps of matter collected into planets, and thereby achieved greater stability.

On some planets (Earth at least), the matter absorbed solar energy and changed phases (water cycle) in order to maintain stability. The water cycle somehow gave rise to replicating molecules, which maintained their stability by creating copies of themselves. Etc. Etc. until life begins, and you have the story of life I mentioned above.

So, the entire history of the universe could be construed as a continual seeking towards greater stability, and the strategies that acheive that stability, I call 'intelligence'.

Again, I must stress that my conception of intelligence is not inevitable. A meteor could smash the Earth tomorrow and wipe out all life.

I mentioned Stability Theory earlier, which is a branch of thermodynamics that may hold the promise to linking entropy to stability, which would tie in my concepts to physics. But even then, the Earth, and even the solar system itself, is not a closed system, and so we can't say that the general tendency towards intelligence is inevitable, except perhaps within the entire universe itself. I'll wait for the Stability Theorists to figure it out.

Okay, enough of that. On to my remaining critique of your philosophy.

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Again, I'm not downplaying human creativity or anything like that. I also exalt in it. But I don't stop there. I think it is irresponsible to stop there. Too many people have said, "Humans are so great! Now let's wallow in our greatness while the world falls apart." I'm asking you, What tangible outcomes do you draw from this philosophy you've so far presented?

Thank you for asking. Ok, so people have brains, structures able to assign meaning and interpret and imagine and allow for creating things. That is a boon, but if that is all it is, then like you said, for what end? Well, people can imagine potentials, which is basically what imagination is in the first place. We can contemplate the potentials, and actually affect them (albeit on a small scale).

In my terms, I would phrase this as, "Humans are able to predict possible futures and act to influence events such that a desired future is more likely to come about, or an undesired future less likely". I don't think potential/actual adds anything to this, since the transformations may be sideways rather than pro-actual.

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The regular flow of this river system is to keep on going down that regular path of the river bed, but people being free agents are able to divert that flow elsewhere for other purposes

Again, in this metaphor, the flow can be shifted sideways, instead of more actual. Humans can choose from among many possible outcomes, and some of those outcomes may be 'equivalent' in terms of potential/actual.

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So, to bring that idea back to the whole picture of man's place in the universe, we have the ability to not only create meaning, but we have the means of directing potential, in either direction and in multiple areas beyond what normally objects in our 'tier' in space can (We can affect planets as well as atoms, not just rocks now).

And here comes my final critique. Since it is possible to direct 'potential' in any way, up, down, left, right, pro-potential, pro-actual, completely neutral, whatever, how does your philosophy instruct us which way to direct this potential?

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First, it affirms a free will, because the system of the mind, being able to actively alter potentials unlike rocks and DNA, can choose what it does. Fate is merely the procession of potentials through time, and we can affect our own at the very least due to our minds.

But I don't need this concept to see free will. My concepts of intelligence and prediction work just fine for me. I can predict many possible futures, and this allows me to choose the ones that are better (intelligence). BTW, I don't believe in Fate because of this very mechanism of being able to use knowledge of the future to change its outcomes.

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Second, it affirms our inherent responsibility to act. Unlike rocks and DNA and such, which lack minds and hence do not have much choice in what they do, we do have the minds which allow us to not only create and destroy but to choose what we do. By realizing this, we learn that we must act responsibly because we have the ability to. Freedom requires responsibility in order to be worth anything at all.

Responsibility to what end? This doesn't help me decide how to act, it just says I must. But act how? Should I choose A or B?

To put it more concretely, how would your philosophy have helped you to vote in the previous election? How should you spend your free time? What causes should you support? What futures should you strive to bring about? What futures should you strive to avoid?

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Like I said before, it removes rather effectively removes the 'Nihilistic Pit' by showing man creates his own meanings in life.

But what meanings should we create? What if someone chooses the meaning of his life that he wants to fly a plane into building in order to get 72 virgins in heaven? How are we to know whether that's a good meaning or a bad one?

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It gains an interesting view of different agents in the system of potentials (as I am sure many differing agents exist, working many different ways with potentials).

Which of these agents should we support in their efforts? Which should we oppose?

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It gives an explanation to free will that doesn't involve Gods or 'Man's specialness' (though honestly, brains are neat structures, though no more special than rocks or stars or water). It requires responsibility of people based on their nature instead of supernatural requirements or higher authorities.

These I like, and I just want to point out that my system also gives these benefits. These similarities (and other's I haven't mentioned) make me think our ideas aren't so different from each other.

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Oh, also, it is a rational logical ideal that can potentially work with religions as well in the sense that people who are religious or not could perhaps agree on it, which would be VERY helpful should we all were can pound out the kinks in the idea. It is very malleable past the pretty simple concept, which doesn't deduct from its value but actually increases it.

You and I are definitely on the same wavelength here.

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Well, mostly people have been thinking all things are doomed to fall apart to entropy, heat, greater potentials. But if humans exist, which are agents capible of operating under the potentials in different ways, then most likely there are other agents that operate in other ways. Not necessarily 'intelligent' at all, but able to counteract the 'heat death' hypothesis.

Again, another similarity. I use the prediction and intelligence ideas to imagine the same possibility.

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I think we do more than just 'face the unknown and wonder'. A rock would do the same (except wondering, because I don't think it can do that...). How about we face the unknown, we wonder, we come to understand, and we create? Because people do that constantly, and it is what we do best honestly.

Yes, this is exactly where my 'wonderism' leads, but I didn't want to get side-tracked into epistemology. The word wonder has several meanings. Three are most important to me: 1) The feeling of wonder (desire to know), 2) to wonder; to ask questions; to hypothesize (how to know), 3) a wonder; a great work; a creation (applying knowledge).

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Sorry for the massively long post. Feel free to break it up if you want to shorten your replies.

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Brian37
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To quote Ogar from "Revenge

To quote Ogar from "Revenge of the Nerds 2"

"Guys"(all laying down on the beach around a fire smoking pot)"What if C-A-T actually spelled D-O-G?"

(the nerds respond) "Whoahhhhhhhh"

Not seriously taking a dig at the op. But as a responder correctly stated, speculating without evidence may be fun, but it can get you in trouble.

There have been people here claiming that the "transporter" from Star Trec is possible, but fail to take into account the absurd complexity that would be required for such. It will remain in the realm of fiction despite the creative fantasy.

I can imagine a purple snarfwidget, but what does that mean other than having an imagination.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

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Quote: There have been

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There have been people here claiming that the "transporter" from Star Trec is possible, but fail to take into account the absurd complexity that would be required for such. It will remain in the realm of fiction despite the creative fantasy.

I can imagine a purple snarfwidget, but what does that mean other than having an imagination.

Ah, but you can imagine it, right? I am not saying that makes it real at all. But if you can imagine it, there is potential that it could exist otherwise. Now, I am pretty sure it would be basically impossible, but say you had a really good ability to manipulate DNA. Perhaps you could make it. But that is not as plausable as say that you wrote about your snarfwidget, which is using your imagination in a creative process. That is the point of it, whether or not you can make a snarfwidget to hold in your hand.

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Okay, I'm seeing a lot of similarities with my own philosophy now. I think it will be a fruitful exchange for both of us. You've introduced the concept of potential/actual, which I've heard thrown about in some prior discussions here and there, but haven't discussed before, so it should be interesting for me. I'm going to introduce my concepts of prediction, intelligence, and stability, and see how you deal with them.

I still have at least two major issues with what you've proposed so far. Briefly, they are the concept of directionality, and what I perceive of as a lack of an ability to motivate to specific action. I'll explain inline below.

Ok! We are getting somewhere. But before we go on, and my mind gets into explanation and debate mode, I figured out what exactly I meant by actuality.

Now, I said before that this potential system could probably work with or without the term 'actuality' in it. In my mind, I knew it had something to do with reality, without which potential means about as much as a snarfwidget.

But then it occured to me that the ultimate end of potential would be 'total' actuality (which I doubt anything ever gets to), but along the way are other 'actuals'. Actuality therefore just means from the process of potential going up and down what we end up with in reality. For instance, an atom and a person are 'actuals'; they exist in reality. Now, the atom has more potential than the person in the 'forward direction', which I will explain further later on, but both are actuals because they exist in reality. So that was what I was getting at with adding 'actual' to the whole idea.

Now, onto the debate.

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It is this directionality towards lesser potentials that concerns me. As I alluded to previously, it is a notoriously difficult problem in physics. About the only thing that has been shown conclusively to have an inevitable directionality is the continual accumulation of entropy in a closed system.

But as far as I can tell, your potentiality/actuality directionality is not specifically concerned with entropy. Am I correct?

If you're not talking about entropy, then I'm going to challenge any implication of directionality that you make.

You are correct in saying it doesn't just concern entropy. It is more about the potentials any bit of reality (actuals) in what they can become. But, it does seem very similar, as it is very much concerned with the creation of complex systems, many of which are 'agents', like little machines that tinker with the overall flux of potentials (We are an agent, like a star is another kind of agent, for example).

And I am glad you are challenging me on the directionality, because it lead me to rethink about the nature of this idea I describe. I forgot about the reverse direction in particular, going towards more potential. It wouldn't be a 'flux' otherwise.

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Just to be clear, I'll explain entropy a bit. The best simple explanation I've heard for it is 'the amount of unusable energy in a system'. You can imagine a bucket into which energy can be placed. But any time you put energy in the bucket, it is stuck there forever and cannot be reused. The energy remains in the system, it is just stuck in an unusable state. Any interaction within the system will either maintain the balance of usable energy, or some portion of that usable energy will be lost as entropy. Thus, a closed system is like a watch that will always and eventually wind down until it stops. There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine which can continue operating forever.

So, you can see that the continual accumulation of entropy means that a closed system is constantly losing some of its freedom. You could say that it is losing its 'potential'. Likewise, it is constantly accumulating entropy, and so you could say that it is becoming more and more 'actual'.

Is this what you mean by potential/actual? If so, then I'd again say that you're really just talking about thermodynamics and information theory, as I did in my first response.

Entropy is heat, is it not? I studied it in Biology briefly and in other science courses, but I do understand it is supposedly unuseable energy which dissipates away most often as heat. Closed systems have no energy source, so they eventually cool off and stop working. Open, like with the sun, stay working so long as the sun still supplies the system with energy.

That is what I understand about entropy. But my idea differs on a few levels. First, it attempts to contend with the nature of the 'system of systems', or the entire universe and its workings. Of all that we observe, simple things can become complex, and complex things can become simple. So the potential idea (along with my soon-in-coming explanation for potential increases) is basically this concept.

Second, it takes into account agents, which theromodynamics (as far as I know about it) does not cover. An agent is an object or a force (any actuality) which affects the flow of potentials. I imagine them like little machines in a great big factory, all working in different ways inside this overall structure.

Third, because of the presence of agents and their 'special' systems (just systems that alter potential flow one way or another), more insight into their workings comes, namely in human systems with human's ability to create and their ability and responsibility to create meanings in life. It is very useful for that purpose, hopefully.

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You appear to me to be saying that even in an open system there is some sort of inevitable directionality from 'potentiality' towards 'actuality'. I challenge that. I don't think it can be demonstrated or supported.

Even if you don't claim this, there is another thing which I would challenge, namely the idea that once a thing has lost potential, it is somehow stuck on an particular path. For example, you keep talking about DNA, and how it makes proteins, but can't make new elements. But as I've argued, if you put enough DNA together such that it was massive enough to start its own fusion reaction, then DNA could indeed create new elements.

Another example is if you put DNA in a particle collider, you could generate all sorts of things that a sun might not (Higgs boson, for example).

Alright, this is what I wanted to cover. In my second post, I was very excited at hearing your argument about death, and how that isn't very helpful. In the original conception of this idea, I naemly was moving towards people from just the basic bits of matter, so in order to get to that point I needed to reduce potential, so for awhile I forgot it can go the other way too.

Perhaps my unconcious mind remembered, because in another debate on this subject (I tested it out on a site called Rapture Ready, basically the polar opposite of here. You guys may know about it...), I kept refering to the overall idea as the 'flux', which I thought of like a bottle of water being tilted side to side wit hthe water flowing between two extremes.

Anyway, I forgot about death, but namely I forgot about going towards greater potential: Disintegration. The opposite way from this is Integration, which is greater complexity, while Disintegration is going towards more simplicity. In terms of the 'flux', Integration reduces potential, and Disintegration increases it.

Now, with this in mind, I can now answer your challenge. You contend that if we amassed enough DNA, we could create a whole new star, which would violate the movement towards lesser potential this idea has. I do not disagree that if you had enough DNA, you could do that. You could also do it with a much more complex, aka a lesser potential thing, like a person. There's a game called 'Beautifu Katamari' which has basically that idea with rolling up such objects to make a star.

But, this is not decreasing potential by this means, it is decreasing it, namely because the DNA would have to disintegrate into hydrogen and other atoms in order for the star to operate. So it moves 'down' towards greater potential, because those atoms that used to be the DNA now can turn into a whole bunch of new 'actuals', objects, other than DNA. The same applies to putting DNA into a collider, as it would disintegrate the DNA, increase its potential, and thus make lots of little things. It is not decreasing their potential (increasing their complexity) to turn them into stars and subatomic dust, but turning atoms into DNA is for example.

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Even Borges' Library of Babel that Hambydammit brought up is not necessarily a good example. If I go down the aisle "It was a dark and stormy night", then the remaining books will all start with that phrase. But in reality, I could 'jump sideways' and jump to "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", or I could only switch one of the words with "It was a dark and steamy night". Which one of these has more or less potential? how do you explain the transformation from one to the other?

I think it is just two ways of imagining the process, that's all. The way the aisles would work in that analogy is going down straight lines, with little junctions of branches. Think of them as straight lines all the way, so the intersections would be like T's.

So, lets say that for each word you encounter, you come to a junction. These junctions would stretch on and on, as after 'It' can be any other word imaginable. So we come to the phrase 'It was a dark and stormy night'. If you wanted to change it into 'it was a dark and steamy night', you would have to back up, go back to the 'and' junction, then go down the 'steamy' ailse (I assume a very fun ailse to be in).

But you cannot just jump over the aisle and appear in 'steamy' right then and there, because 'stormy' is only 'stormy'; it lacks the potential to be steamy at this point. But if you go back to 'and', from 'and' you have the potential to go down either 'stormy' or 'steamy', and thus arrive at your destination.

To apply this back to my idea, 'and' is like the amorphic atom stage, which can turn into DNA or a granite rock. Now, granted what makes up DNA and a granite rock could be similar, they are not the same thing we can agree. It is the difference between 'stormy' and 'steamy'; similar, but not quite the same thing. The DNA, without disintegration from being DNA, cannot become a piece of granite, and likewise the granite cannot become a piece of DNA without disintegration; aka, without going back a step to the juncture at the atom stage where it then can turn into either-or. Potential of the atom therefore is inherently greater than the rock or the DNA!

I hope that makes sense. I believe it is just a different picture in our minds which is causing most of our conflicting ideas about it.

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Going back to DNA, if you have a string of DNA that encodes for a protein, and you mutate a single nucleotide in the DNA, the resulting mutation could have a beneficial, deleterious, or completely neutral effect on the organism. How does potentiality/actuality deal with that situation? It seems to me that the concept is powerless to illuminate this extremely common type of scenario.

Alright, now this ia good question too. Now, it works the same way as before. Lets say your DNA strand is 10 nucleotides long (tiny, i know, but I dont want to deal with millions), and at Nucleotide 3 we encounter a mutation. Well, we start from the potential of a 10-strand piece of DNA, which has about 1,048,576 different potentials (lets for now ignore the weird potentials of malshaped DNA, differing kinds of DNA, ext...) for different combos. This is a junction point, in which you go to your specific strand and go down it. At the point of mutation, it occurs at either a point of integration (where the DNA is being assembled from individual nucleotides, by the way, which have more potential than the 10-strand DNA sequence again), or as a result of disintegration (say if one gets knocked loose and is lost, the complexity of the strand went down, hence potential went up for what the little space can be filled up with, or with the now 9-Nucleotide sequence for what it can be a part of).

So, this deals with a very specific case, and it shows the vastness of potentials, but the flux system still seems to hold true.

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The universe now has as much potential as the universe at the beginning.

This I wonder about. I am tempted to agree with you, but what was the universe right after the Big Bang? A soup of matter. Well, that soup would have a great deal of potential, but as it forms into atoms and then into stars and so on, does the overall potential stay the same? And now with the advent of all these other complex agents, is the overall potential still the same?

I think it would have to alter, because the highest level of potential is unimaginable to us; It would have to be 'something' that could become everything and anything else ever possible. I think it would be akin to nothing, or is nothing, because once we can visualize it, call it something, that just decreased its potential and thus it cannot be everything anymore...

So if we were still at that stage, we dont exist outside of something basically imaginary. That goes down into bong vision stuff I don't want to get into right now...  But I think the total is in flux, which is how we can have a balance between potentials and actuals, with potentials allowing for actions and creations and disintegrations, and actuals being the objects and means for this flux to act upon.

Ok, up until this point I have not read your own idea out of fear that my mind would subconsciously take from it and call it my own. So, i'll read it now that I have my own basic concept down in writing.

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So, the entire history of the universe could be construed as a continual seeking towards greater stability, and the strategies that acheive that stability, I call 'intelligence'.

Alright, I think this is the core of your own idea. I must grant the same curtesy (as it is a great favor this debate has done for me) to your idea.

So, you call the greater complexities 'intelliegences', which are systems that 'strive' (consciously or unconsciously) to maintain their stability for existance. It sounds very similar to my idea, as you noticed too. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the potential flux or the realities resulting from it would be 'intelligent', but I would call them different 'agents', but I think that is just a matter of symantics again.

However, a few points strike me as odd, which I will ennumerate below.

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It seems to me that throughout evolution on Earth there's been a tendency toward greater and greater 'intelligence'. But what I mean by 'intelligence' is not what we typically mean in everyday English. It means something more akin to 'stability' or 'adaptability'. I only use the word intelligence because it somehow parallels human intelligence.

You go onto cite specific examples of people outsmarting lions (at least the smart people) and bacteria with better genes. You define 'intelligence' as being able to adapt or otherwise maintain the stability or existance of that system. So wouldn't a rock, for example, be much more stable and 'intelligent' than a person? We cover our dead people with rocks, and the rocks outlast even the people who used them to bury the others with! That system seems much more stable to me, and I don't think we can call it more 'intelligent' than the person or any other organism.

But let me go into biological intelligences, which may apply better to this observation. Take person vs bacteria, which you explore a little later on in your idea. You too observe that bacteria most likely would survive beyond people. And your definition for intelligences remains the ability to maintain stability of each system's existence, which greater intelligence means greater ability to survive, correct? Then the bacteria, according to what I understand of your theory, is smarter than the person in many respects. Sure, we can nuke billions of the buggers with soap, but in the end what kills most people but those lil guys? But that last part is beside the point, which is that if intelligence can be increasing or decreasing (not just differing in branches), then under this current definition bacteria would trump us in your terms of intelligence.

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When we look over the history of life, we see this tendency towards greater and greater intelligence.

You see a series of stages of growth and diversification and specialization, and then a major extinction happens and it wipes out most of the 'intelligent' forms. Then the next stage of growth and diversification happens and these forms seem to be even more intelligent than the previous. And then *they* are killed by a major extinction, etc. So it is not an inevitable progress, just a general tendency. There always seem to be major extinctions that wipe away most of the previous progress.

So, intelligence in your definition is again the ability to maintain stability and existence of a system. But let us consider intelligence as a survival mechanism, in which the claim is that being 'smarter', able to predict or have claws, is always a boon and a help to an organism.

I would contend not always, as look at the bacteria. Thinking of that quote "It is folly to be wise amongst fools", it namely is true because if you are the only intelligent one among idiots, the idiots tend to reduce the survivability or at least stability of that intelligent one (bullies in school, witch trials, ext...).

Bacteria are fools, honestly. They eat, they drink, they split in two, and sometimes have sex. Thats about it. But they survive so much better than people, or basically any other organism! But taking crabs and snails for example, we still have both today with differing mechanisms for survival. These mechanisms are dependant upon their environment, not upon their personal make-up. Like, snails are happy being in an aquarium tank with lots of algae. In this case, they are extremely stable or 'intelligent'. In a pile of salt, they are not very well off.

What I am getting at here is that 'intelligence' is subjective in these cases, in which one organism is more or less so given differing environments, which makes your definition of intelligence dependant more upon the relationship between environment and individual rather than individual's inherent intellect (be it what it may be).

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So, I think you can see the similarity with your idea of potentiality/actuality. It is not a direct analog, but when you speak of greater actuality, I'm reminded of greater intelligence. Greater ability to react to situations to maintain stability. In the case of humans, greater ability to predict the future. You can even extend my concept outside of the domain of life and to the rest of the universe. The first atoms were disorganized and flying around randomly. They condensed into massive clouds and attained a greater stability. They got too massive and started to collapse, but triggered nuclear fusion reactions to maintain an outward pressure, and hence maintain stability.

I think that the more complex a system becomes, the more unstable it becomes automatically. Like building a Jenga tower, the higher is becomes, aka the more complex, the more unstable and likely to break down it becomes. I think that is one way that the flux towards lesser potential is counteracted and prevents whatever the lack of potential would be.

So, humans having the ability to predict is a system which helps them to greatly overcome the instability of their system, but all biological systems suffer from death, which is one of those counterbalances for these systems. If we gain enough smarts to overcome death (it may not be terribly difficult), it would be an example of greater stability perhaps (for the individual), or greater instability (overpopulation and eventual demise of the whole system). Either way, the intelligence becomes subjective and personal to that particular case in that particular situation.

Hopefully a debate on this subject too (either here or elsewhere) will help to either redefine or further clarify your own idea like the debate here is helping mine. It is an interesting idea.

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In my terms, I would phrase this as, "Humans are able to predict possible futures and act to influence events such that a desired future is more likely to come about, or an undesired future less likely". I don't think potential/actual adds anything to this, since the transformations may be sideways rather than pro-actual.

Actually, human actions can be for creation or destruction (lesser or greater potential). The potential flux is useful in explaining 'what' humans are manipulating rather than just 'stuff'.

And I would contend again that what appears to you as 'sideways' is just another way of thinking about the parallel and perpendicular motions of potential movement. For instance, look at these words, like 'o's on the screen. They appear to be made of a curving line, but at closer inspection, they are in fact created on the completely parallel and perpendicular grid of the computer screen. Potentials go down really really deep, so deep in fact that looking at it in general terms (such as humans manipulating their surroundings) it appears to be sideways, or backwards, or random, but in the end is all comes down to integration and disintegration, like in the Library analogy.

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And here comes my final critique. Since it is possible to direct 'potential' in any way, up, down, left, right, pro-potential, pro-actual, completely neutral, whatever, how does your philosophy instruct us which way to direct this potential?

Aha! There we go, the currently greatest point of my idea on the lives of mankind. After I explained how the potential moves just above, and all this technical stuff we hav been exploring, how does this instruct people to act?

Well, it doesn't really instruct them to do anything in particular, as potential is so vast it would be silly to say 'Create everything and dont destroy!', because then we would build up detrimental things and neglect the good (like letting the weeds overtake the garden because we do not wish to increase the potential of the weeds by mulching them), or to say 'Destroy everything and dont create!'m because then we would obviously break up everything and just destroy ourselves that way (nuking ourselves is a good example).

So, none of that. But, it gives an appriciation to the indivdual as to what they are. We are agents capible of choosing whether to create or to destroy, and we are to use our judgements, driven by our responsibility towards the worth of ourselves and the worth of others, to benefit all. This means we destroy the truly detrimental, and promote the truly good.

Now, as to defining good and bad, that is left up to other debates. But this idea gives the basic outline as to how we should appriciate the great potential of our lives, and that it is something to cherish and make the most of in the best ways we can.

I think that is something we can all agree would be wonderful to have for everybody to realize.

And I believe that once people understand and accept this idea, which is based on observation and contemplation about the natural world about us, it will serve to make mankind at least that much more understanding.

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But I don't need this concept to see free will. My concepts of intelligence and prediction work just fine for me. I can predict many possible futures, and this allows me to choose the ones that are better (intelligence). BTW, I don't believe in Fate because of this very mechanism of being able to use knowledge of the future to change its outcomes.

You don't need any of it, but it may help explain it. Because you are a system that can take its own action apart from just the natural laws of the universe (such an agent capable of that), you have free will logically. You choose to predict or not, and choose whether or not to act upon your knowledge. That is free will, apart from the ability to predict.

As for Fate, I have contemplated it much, and have come to the conclusion that Fate is merely the consequences of all actions throughout time. If man could have all knowledge of all possible actions and all of the resulting consequences thereof, we would have the ability to control Fate itself. The lack of knowledge we have, however, makes Fate appear 'destined', though we blindly determine it with each of our actions, and the actions of other people and things.

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But what meanings should we create? What if someone chooses the meaning of his life that he wants to fly a plane into building in order to get 72 virgins in heaven? How are we to know whether that's a good meaning or a bad one?

Like I said before, that debate is up to specific discussions. But in general, we are responsible because we are free, and that responsibility will drive us to do that which is beneficial for ourselves, our brethren, and our world (soon to be universe too).

Well, that has been a 3+ hour write. Hope you and others enjoy it, and hopefully it is becoming clearer as to where I am coming from.

BobSpence
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A couple of point of

A couple of point of clarification.

Entropy is defined in thermodynamics by what represents a change of entropy, which is defined

as $\Delta S = \frac{\Delta Q}{T}$, ie a system gains entropy S as thermal energy q flows into it from outside at absolute temperature T.

Image the simplest system of two bodies A and B of equal thermal capacity at different temperatures, say Ta = 500 K and Tb = 100 K. If we let them make thermal contact, A will lose heat and B will gain the same quantity of heat, so Ta will fall and Tb will rise by the same amount.

Since they are at different temperatures, the loss in entropy associated heat loss from A will be lower than the entropy gained by B as that same quantity of heat flows into it, so the total entropy of the two objects increases, until they at the final temperature of 300 K.

Entropy, and the heat death of the Universe, is not about any nett loss of heat, but about this evening out of temperature. we can only extract energy from heat when there is a source of heat at a one temperature and some other body that is at a lower temperature to absorb the waste heat from the heat engine.

This concept can be extended to chemical and nuclear energy. We can only get energy for our own purposes while there is some quantity of matter that is in a state with more energy than it would have in some other state that we can encourage or allow it to transform to. Such as when carbon and oxygen atom combine into molecules of carbon dioxide.

Once all the fuel is used up, the same amount of energy is still around, but some chemical or nuclear energy has been converted to heat energy.

If you consider a neutron as equivalent to a proton plus an electron, there are still the same number of sub-atomic particles as well, even with nuclear processes.

With thermal energy, total heat energy remains the same, it just becomes evened out.

With nuclear and chemical sources, the universe actually warms up, as those energy sources turn some chemical and nuclear energy into heat.

Entropy defines the natural directionality of physical processes. A process that results in a reduction of entropy will definitely require an external input of energy to drive it. A process which can occur spontaneously at a non-zero rate, inevitably results in an increase of entropy.

This is the only fundamental limitation on what transformations to or from different arrangements of matter are potentially possible.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

deludedgod
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Quote:Second, it takes into

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Second, it takes into account agents, which theromodynamics (as far as I know about it) does not cover.

There is no such thing. All objects and things in the universe are bound under the laws of thermodynamics.

PS: Entropy is not heat, it is a measure of disorder in a system. There are a variety of definitions of entropy that should be considered. In statistical mechanics, we usually refer to absolute entropy as S=klog(W). In this case, entropy is purely related to the number of possible microstates the system could possess in a given macrostate.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Quote: A couple of point of

Quote:

A couple of point of clarification.

Entropy is defined in thermodynamics by what represents a change of entropy, which is defined

as $\Delta S = \frac{\Delta Q}{T}$, ie a system gains entropy S as thermal energy q flows into it from outside at absolute temperature T.

Image the simplest system of two bodies A and B of equal thermal capacity at different temperatures, say Ta = 500 K and Tb = 100 K. If we let them make thermal contact, A will lose heat and B will gain the same quantity of heat, so Ta will fall and Tb will rise by the same amount.

Since they are at different temperatures, the loss in entropy associated heat loss from A will be lower than the entropy gained by B as that same quantity of heat flows into it, so the total entropy of the two objects increases, until they at the final temperature of 300 K.

Entropy, and the heat death of the Universe, is not about any nett loss of heat, but about this evening out of temperature. we can only extract energy from heat when there is a source of heat at a one temperature and some other body that is at a lower temperature to absorb the waste heat from the heat engine.

This concept can be extended to chemical and nuclear energy. We can only get energy for our own purposes while there is some quantity of matter that is in a state with more energy than it would have in some other state that we can encourage or allow it to transform to. Such as when carbon and oxygen atom combine into molecules of carbon dioxide.

Once all the fuel is used up, the same amount of energy is still around, but some chemical or nuclear energy has been converted to heat energy.

If you consider a neutron as equivalent to a proton plus an electron, there are still the same number of sub-atomic particles as well, even with nuclear processes.

With thermal energy, total heat energy remains the same, it just becomes evened out.

With nuclear and chemical sources, the universe actually warms up, as those energy sources turn some chemical and nuclear energy into heat.

Entropy defines the natural directionality of physical processes. A process that results in a reduction of entropy will definitely require an external input of energy to drive it. A process which can occur spontaneously at a non-zero rate, inevitably results in an increase of entropy.

This is the only fundamental limitation on what transformations to or from different arrangements of matter are potentially possible.

Thank you for that clarification. There are other limits to potential as well in the sense of being able to stay in existence. Take, for instance, all those pieces of matter that form but then decompose very quickly. Obviously they are potentially possible (or else they wouldn't have formed in the first place), but so unstable they dont last long. The potential isn't really limited, but the product is, which is quickly disintegrated back to a more stable form. Just as well, one cannot make something alter without energy input either, so I do not contrast with thermodynamics there.

But what I am talking about with 'agents' are products of potential which have the ability to exist for at least a little bit of time in reality which can manipulate the flow of potential. This would also extend to entropy. People, for instance, create machines which direct energy to specific tasks. By no means do they alter entropy flow, but if agents exist that can manipulate it, could there not potentially be agents as well that manipulate it in such a way as to make a use of the 'useless' energy of entropy? I think so, though we haven't yet discovered that mechanism or system.

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There is no such thing. All objects and things in the universe are bound under the laws of thermodynamics.

PS: Entropy is not heat, it is a measure of disorder in a system. There are a variety of definitions of entropy that should be considered. In statistical mechanics, we usually refer to absolute entropy as S=klog(W). In this case, entropy is purely related to the number of possible microstates the system could possess in a given macrostate.

Agents are under the same natural laws as anything else. Gravity, nuclear forces, thermodynamics, and all the others all work on the results of potentials. If they do not stand up, those potentials become unstable and they break down until they get to a point where they are stable. I do know in quantum mechanics small seemingly random 'things' are created and destroyed extremely quickly. Though I don't want to get very specific on that point because it is beyond my current realm of knowledge, it is an example of unstable and stable bits of reality.

But I am saying is that given the vastness of potential, perhaps there is an agent (agents being systems that can exist which have an effect on the flow of potential and subsequently other systems, in which case they can be objects or energy or laws or whatever) capable of counteracting the 'heat death' end of things, something able to manipulate entropy like people can manipulate material things (not to say that it must be intelligent, as most likely it is not in the sense of organism intelligence).

But this is all speculation. Again, I am not claiming that it exists, but it can under this idea without violating the idea of potential and actual or the laws of nature. Personally, I think it would be a logical step since most other systems seem to have a flux occuring as well. So don't get me wrong, I am not violating any of the laws set up in reality (which are also a result of potential flux in my observation), and I am not claiming it does exist, but I do hold out that perhaps it could and probably should exist given all other systems we observe.

deludedgod
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Quote:But I am saying is

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But I am saying is that given the vastness of potential, perhaps there is an agent (agents being systems that can exist which have an effect on the flow of potential and subsequently other systems, in which case they can be objects or energy or laws or whatever) capable of counteracting the 'heat death' end of things, something able to manipulate entropy like people can manipulate material things (not to say that it must be intelligent, as most likely it is not in the sense of organism intelligence)

What do you not understand about this? It is not very complicated. Consider a heat engine. If the heat engine does work on a piston by having a gas cylinder push it out, then in order for the piston to continue to do useful work, the system must do work on the piston in order to reset the system. In order for this to be the case, the piston cannot transfer all work to the engine. The easiest way to picture this is with a spinning water wheel that works via gravity. Water flows from the tap down through the paddles, turning them, and then moving to the gravitational equivalent of a reservoir. If the system extracted all the GPE (GPE is Gravitational Potential Energy. The scientific term "potential", which occurs in all branches of physics, has nothing to do with the term you are using), then there is no way to continue to do work on the system unless more water flows in. This cannot continue forever (in the same manner, it is impossible to continuously inject energy into a piston to get it to do work on the wheel of a train (as an example). The gas can't expand forever). Thus we must construct a cyclical system. If we want the water to continue to do work on the wheel, we must reset the system by having work done on the water in raising it back up. This is the essence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (in classical form, that is, and in the context of engine work. The much more generalized definition, defined in terms of the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, is given above). It states that no cyclical process can extract 100% of the energy input do to useful work on a system. Eventually, the system will wind down (the gradient between the input and the reservoir will erode slowly). A simple corollary of this is that the entropy of any system can only be decreased in the context of an increase in entropy outside the system. This process depends on the constant injection of Gibbs Free Energy (that role is played by the sun, and hence in turn, food, for us). Any biological system depends on this process, and like all processes from which free energy can be extracted, it will wind down eventually. Entropy cannot be manipulated at all. It can only be locally altered in the context of much greater increases in entropy outside the system (every chemical reaction in the human body which decreases the entropy inside the cells raises the entropy outside the system more than the localized decrease in entropy). There is absolutely no way to avoid this, nor is there any way to retrieve the energy which has been converted into a more probable state without increasing the net entropy outside the system. (That is the essence of a biological machine. It is how they work). So a continuous engine which extracts energy to do useful work on a system has three components. 1. The supply. 2. The extraction (such as hot steam doing work ona  turbine and then moving to a cold reservoir) and 3. The cycle. (Such as a system doing work on a piston to reset it to push a gas cylinder out again). Our bodies are examples of such systems (Continuous extraction of energy from ATP requires a supply of energy, as well as an ADP-ATP cycle). In order to do something that lowers tne entropy of the system (such as repair a bond broken by thermal energy), the hydrolysis of ATP (which is very energetically favorable) disorders the system around it while ordering the localized system. The continuous hydrolysis of ATP will of course, deplete the amount of chemical energy available for useful work, which is why it operates in an ADP-ATP cycle. In order to perform useful work on an ADP molecule and convert it to ATP, the reaction must be coupled to one which increases the surrounding entropy by a factor greater than the decrease which makes the formation of ATP possible. In biochemistry we call this reaction coupling. And it is the basis of our existence. But of course that cannot continue forever either (the reservoir will erode eventually). If work is done on a system which moves it to a more energetically favorable state, it will tend to occur spontaneously. If I apply an electric field to a conducter, the electrons the conduction band will tend to move so to cancel it out. No matter what we do, with every breath we take, with every star that burns, with every tree that grows, every planet that forms, everything and anything in some way, contributes to the net increase in entropy in the universe, contributing to its inevitable heat death, where no more useful work can be extracted from any system anymore.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Hambydammit
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I think you need to

I think you need to rethink "ultimate actuality."  In terms of entropy, that would be total universal heat death.  I doubt that's what you're talking about.  In terms of the assembly of matter/energy, I think you'd be hard pressed to show that any particular form would be the "ultimate" assembly.

I suppose if you're still trying to work with the Library of Babel (or Library of Matter) in this case, you'd see that a lot of aisle crossed back on themselves.  Hydrogen can be part of water, then be separated into its elemtental form, then be part of hydrochloric acid, then revert to elemental, then water again.  It's not an upward progression, nor is there any particular reason for it to be.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote:  No matter what we

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No matter what we do, with every breath we take, with every star that burns, with every tree that grows, every planet that forms, everything and anything in some way, contributes to the net increase in entropy in the universe, contributing to its inevitable heat death, where no more useful work can be extracted from any system anymore.

Yes yes, I understand entropy just fine. I am not denying that currently, we know of no means by which entropy can be reversed. I merely said perhaps, *perhaps*, there is a system capable of doing so that we have not discovered yet. I didn't say anything but that, and I didn't claim to know what it would be. So there is not point in pressing that point, because it was beside the point.

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I think you need to rethink "ultimate actuality."  In terms of entropy, that would be total universal heat death.  I doubt that's what you're talking about.  In terms of the assembly of matter/energy, I think you'd be hard pressed to show that any particular form would be the "ultimate" assembly.

I believe you are right. After considering how the potentials tend to branch out into basically limitless directions (Though they still go 'up' and 'down' in terms of complexity, and at each level of actuality it has a bunch more possiblitilies to go up), then there is no reason that potentials would all then converge at one little point and call it 'ultimate actuality'.

So, probably 'ultimate actuality' is all of the universe itself, because that is all the 'actual' there ever is. An endpoint there would be if the universe crushed in on itself, if all systems reached a point where no more potential could go up, and it could only go down.

Hambydammit
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Quote:So, probably

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So, probably 'ultimate actuality' is all of the universe itself, because that is all the 'actual' there ever is. An endpoint there would be if the universe crushed in on itself, if all systems reached a point where no more potential could go up, and it could only go down.

LOL!  So all this chatter about ultimate acuality has led you to entropy within the closed system of the entire universe.  Congratulations

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote: LOL!  So all this

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LOL!  So all this chatter about ultimate acuality has led you to entropy within the closed system of the entire universe.  Congratulations

No need to be mocking. And it is not entropy in a closed system, as the universe as a whole is a differenent kind of system, being able to house systems which alter flows of potential. So the whole must be something different than merely 'a closed system' in entropy, and I call all of reality (the universe) the 'ultimate actuality', because you cannot be 'more real' than reality. It deals with something bigger than entropy, which is a property of the universe from potential.

Namely, this idea is focused upon people and general concepts. You may, if you wish, take it down to nitty-gritty details, which it appears to still hold up rather well, but I find it more useful for most people for motivation and insight into free will and responsibility and such concepts as that.

Hambydammit
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Quote:No need to be

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No need to be mocking.

I put the smiley face there to indicate a good natured ribbing, not mocking.  I used to date this girl who took things the wrong way all the time.  I always said, "Baby, if there are two ways to interpret what I'm saying, pick the better one.  If I'm angry or being mean, you'll know it for certain."

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And it is not entropy in a closed system, as the universe as a whole is a differenent kind of system, being able to house systems which alter flows of potential.

Careful here.  Systems are systems.  The "universe" is defined in this context as all that is material that exists.  Since all that exists is subject to entropy, what I said was accurate.

Entropy allows for "systems wich alter flows of potential."  That's just a fancy way of saying that sub-systems overlap.

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So the whole must be something different than merely 'a closed system' in entropy, and I call all of reality (the universe) the 'ultimate actuality', because you cannot be 'more real' than reality. It deals with something bigger than entropy, which is a property of the universe from potential.

Now you're getting back to mumbo-jumbo.  We're talking philosophy here.  The whole is whatever you define it to be, but once you've defined it, you have to live with the consequences.  When you say all of reality is "ultimate reality" you're really just inserting an empty word in the sentence.  Remember Occam's razor.  Don't add complexity to something that is already parsimonious.

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Namely, this idea is focused upon people and general concepts. You may, if you wish, take it down to nitty-gritty details, which it appears to still hold up rather well, but I find it more useful for most people for motivation and insight into free will and responsibility and such concepts as that.

The way a philosophy is perceived is not related to its accuracy.  Do you want to find something that makes you and other people feel good, or do you want to find something that accurately describes reality?

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote: Careful here.

Quote:

Careful here.  Systems are systems.  The "universe" is defined in this context as all that is material that exists.  Since all that exists is subject to entropy, what I said was accurate.

Entropy allows for "systems wich alter flows of potential."  That's just a fancy way of saying that sub-systems overlap.

I defined the 'ultimate actuality' as the universe, which in this current set-up is subject to entropy. I said I already agreed to that. But the universe is under the other idea of potential as well, which is how it is 'real' in the first place. Conceivably, the beginning of the universe was from a state of pure potential and no actual, and now it has quite a bit of reality in it, so potential is an important point of this idea. The actual is what exists, which all of it that we know of now is subject to the natural laws of thermodynamics (I stress all that we know so far), and the potential is all that there *could* be. So the total flux system, which is the underlying framework of the universe all all that is in it, is bigger than entropy.

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Remember Occam's razor.  Don't add complexity to something that is already parsimonious.

I see it as a very simple process. Only one flux of potential being greater or lesser, and the results thereof. When one starts to analyze it deeper, and traces the consequences, then it gets complicated, but just like tracing such a simple process as evolution or gravity. For our purposes of fortifying the idea of human worth and free will and inherent responsibility without having to resort to Gods or shifting environments, I think this philosophy works rather well, and remains with all observation.

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The way a philosophy is perceived is not related to its accuracy.  Do you want to find something that makes you and other people feel good, or do you want to find something that accurately describes reality?

You ask that as if we could not have both at once. I think it describes reality well, and in doing so makes people feel good. No need for reality to be inherently nihilistic, nor our understanding of it to be so.

Hambydammit
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Quote: For our purposes

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For our purposes of fortifying the idea of human worth and free will and inherent responsibility without having to resort to Gods or shifting environments, I think this philosophy works rather well, and remains with all observation.

To be perfectly honest, I don't see how this has anything to do with human worth or free will.  Could you explain it?

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You ask that as if we could not have both at once. I think it describes reality well, and in doing so makes people feel good. No need for reality to be inherently nihilistic, nor our understanding of it to be so.

It'd be nice if reality also makes us happy, but if we use happiness as a criteria for interpreting reality, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  Bias leads to mistakes.

I dismiss nihilists out of hand.  Anyone who can't see the problems with nihilism isn't prepared for a serious philosophical discussion.  I don't say that to offend, but if you give nihilism any air time at all, I'd suggest that you need to go back to basic ontology and epistemology until nihilism becomes ridiculous to you.  Then you'll be better equipped to do what you're trying to do.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote:  To be perfectly

Quote:
To be perfectly honest, I don't see how this has anything to do with human worth or free will.  Could you explain it?

I went over this earlier in the post... Lets see if I can find it again...

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Thank you for asking. Ok, so people have brains, structures able to assign meaning and interpret and imagine and allow for creating things. That is a boon, but if that is all it is, then like you said, for what end? Well, people can imagine potentials, which is basically what imagination is in the first place. We can contemplate the potentials, and actually affect them (albeit on a small scale).

For an analogy, people have been for thousands of years building dams and altering the flow of rivers for their own purposes. The regular flow of this river system is to keep on going down that regular path of the river bed, but people being free agents are able to divert that flow elsewhere for other purposes due to the ability of our minds to imagine and then create in reality (with the help of our bodies and tools) those dams.

So, to bring that idea back to the whole picture of man's place in the universe, we have the ability to not only create meaning, but we have the means of directing potential, in either direction and in multiple areas beyond what normally objects in our 'tier' in space can (We can affect planets as well as atoms, not just rocks now).

That is an even greater boon, but still doesn't mean much, because a star has as much or more power to affect things around it (though as far as we know it has no choice in the matter). But because we have minds capable of the thoughts and abilities I said before, the result is twofold.

First, it affirms a free will, because the system of the mind, being able to actively alter potentials unlike rocks and DNA, can choose what it does. Fate is merely the procession of potentials through time, and we can affect our own at the very least due to our minds.

Second, it affirms our inherent responsibility to act. Unlike rocks and DNA and such, which lack minds and hence do not have much choice in what they do, we do have the minds which allow us to not only create and destroy but to choose what we do. By realizing this, we learn that we must act responsibly because we have the ability to. Freedom requires responsibility in order to be worth anything at all.

So, it does have some benefits arising from the idea. Like I said before, it removes rather effectively removes the 'Nihilistic Pit' by showing man creates his own meanings in life. It gains an interesting view of different agents in the system of potentials (as I am sure many differing agents exist, working many different ways with potentials). It gives an explanation to free will that doesn't involve Gods or 'Man's specialness' (though honestly, brains are neat structures, though no more special than rocks or stars or water). It requires responsibility of people based on their nature instead of supernatural requirements or higher authorities. And I am sure more ideas can come from it if we think about it some more. But hopefully that should confirm that it is not just a fun mental game to play (though it is that too).

Oh, also, it is a rational logical ideal that can potentially work with religions as well in the sense that people who are religious or not could perhaps agree on it, which would be VERY helpful should we all were can pound out the kinks in the idea. It is very malleable past the pretty simple concept, which doesn't deduct from its value but actually increases it.

There it is. So basically, since we are agents able to determine our own actions because we are able to manipulate potentials, and hence we have an inherent responsibility to do so for the best means possible for us and everyone and everything else.

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It'd be nice if reality also makes us happy, but if we use happiness as a criteria for interpreting reality, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  Bias leads to mistakes.

I have not used happiness as a 'proof' of this process. As you can see, it is a byproduct of interpreting the idea on the human level. If it didnt not result in an explaination for free will or responsibility in a completely secular way, then it still would not lose any of its validity. I have not nor intend to use human contentment as a proof of the process, but I do observe the results on the matter by the process.

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I dismiss nihilists out of hand.  Anyone who can't see the problems with nihilism isn't prepared for a serious philosophical discussion.  I don't say that to offend, but if you give nihilism any air time at all, I'd suggest that you need to go back to basic ontology and epistemology until nihilism becomes ridiculous to you.  Then you'll be better equipped to do what you're trying to do.

I don't understand what you are saying with this... I am not promoting nihilism. In fact, I state that it is silly to be that way. The core idea of it, that the universe by itself doesn't have a meaning, perhaps is true enough. But to take it further into human affairs, claiming everything is without meaning is foolhardy, because like I have been saying throughout this dicussion, humans create their own meanings and so dismisses that portion of the view of meaninglessness. So it is ridiculous for me already, which makes this particular response odd to me...

What I was more saying was nihilistic in the sense of despair that your statement of "happiness OR reality" seemed to have, as if it was thinking if it was reality, it could not be happy for us, or if it was happy for us it was not real. I merely say that ideas can be both true and real, which this one appears to be as well.

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Quote:Well, people can

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Well, people can imagine potentials, which is basically what imagination is in the first place. We can contemplate the potentials, and actually affect them (albeit on a small scale).

Other animals can imagine potentials, too.  Yet, I don't know of anyone who believes apes or dolphins have morals.  I'm skeptical, but I'm reading on.

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For an analogy, people have been for thousands of years building dams and altering the flow of rivers for their own purposes

So have beavers.

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The regular flow of this river system is to keep on going down that regular path of the river bed, but people being free agents are able to divert that flow elsewhere for other purposes due to the ability of our minds to imagine and then create in reality (with the help of our bodies and tools) those dams.

Have you read my essay on free will?  If not, maybe it would help this dialog for you to know where I'm coming from.

Free Will: Why we don't have it, and why that's a good thing.

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So, to bring that idea back to the whole picture of man's place in the universe, we have the ability to not only create meaning, but we have the means of directing potential, in either direction and in multiple areas beyond what normally objects in our 'tier' in space can (We can affect planets as well as atoms, not just rocks now).

I think you might have a real problem with the phrase "create meaning."  We don't create our desire to get a job and make money.  We have the desire and we act upon it.  "Choice" is a very difficult concept, and if you're not completely clear on what you mean by "free will" (if you decide to use the term) is very important.

To put it another way, it is probably more accurate to say that we have desires and we decide (whatever that means) to act upon them, and we call the awareness of our desires "purpose."  The problem is, other animals have goals and act upon them.  Many even have abstract models of their goals.  Tying this to morality may seem obvious to you, but if it is valid, I don't think you've explained it very well.

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First, it affirms a free will, because the system of the mind, being able to actively alter potentials unlike rocks and DNA, can choose what it does. Fate is merely the procession of potentials through time, and we can affect our own at the very least due to our minds.

Seriously, please read my essay.  Free will isn't a term to toss around lightly.  It's very, very, very difficult to define.  If I had the desire, I could lay out a convincing case that DNA does alter potentials, and that the perception of free will is nothing more than a math formula to get us to do what is best for the DNA.

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Second, it affirms our inherent responsibility to act.

I'm sorry to say, you've made a huge jump.  You may think it's an obvious connection, but it's not.  Again, "choice," "free will," and "responsibility" are words that are philosophically loaded, and unless you've meticulously laid out rock solid definitions for all three, the premise I just quoted is nonsense.

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There it is. So basically, since we are agents able to determine our own actions because we are able to manipulate potentials, and hence we have an inherent responsibility to do so for the best means possible for us and everyone and everything else.

The concept of responsibility is a construct of our minds, which you have not firmly established as "free willed" in any meaningful sense.  In fact, you have so many undefined terms in this paragraph that it's literally nonsense.  I'm not trying to be mean.  I'm trying to help you.  It may seem obvious to you that these words all have concrete meaning, but they do not.  Before you can even begin to get to this point, you've got to define your basic terms.  When you try, you're going to be shocked at how difficult it is.

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I don't understand what you are saying with this... I am not promoting nihilism.

Then I retract my statment.

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What I was more saying was nihilistic in the sense of despair that your statement of "happiness OR reality" seemed to have, as if it was thinking if it was reality, it could not be happy for us, or if it was happy for us it was not real. I merely say that ideas can be both true and real, which this one appears to be as well.

ick.  You need some basic epistemology.  LIke I said before, I'm not trying to be mean.  I'm trying to help you see that you're throwing terms around as if everyone agrees on their meaning, or that their meaning is self-evident.

I'm not trying to tell you that you're wrong or that you don't have some worthwhile ideas.  The truth of the matter is that most of what you write is incomprehensible to someone schooled in philosophy and argument.  You haven't defined or defended any of your basic terms, and you haven't laid out anything approaching a well constructed argument.  My best guess is that you don't know how to do either of these things, but you have some interesting ideas floating around in your head.  I'd like to encourage you to spend some time studying the basics of ontology, epistemology, and logic.  I think it would do you a lot of good.

Please take all of this as well-meaning advice from someone who'd like to see you improve your philosophy.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hi Ead,Sorry for the delay.

Sorry for the delay. After my big long post, and reading your big long post, I was feeling a little procrastinationish about writing another multi-hour post in response.

So, with that in mind, I think I'm going to try to keep it much more brief here. I think I basically get your idea. However, I see several problems with it that I do not think you've adequately addressed.

The major problem I see again, is the whole directionality aspect. The reason this is such a major objection in my view is that it implies a kind of teleology to the universe, which is simply *not* supported by evidence. Whether you want to call it 'design', or 'purpose', or in your case 'creativity' or 'potential', the basic problem is the same. Which leads me to the more-fundamental objection:

What I see here is not a philosophy of reality, it's a philosophy of the imagination. Whether you realize it or not, you've imposed a human capacity for imagination upon the entire universe. 'Potential', as I read your writings so far, is simply the ability to imagine possible future scenarios, with the directionality of 'complexity' thrown in. You imagine that things have an innate tendency to become more complex, and this imagination you call 'potential'. But the objects themselves do not actually have this innate property, it is simply your imagination imposed on top of them.

I'm going to pull out some short quotes to support my point here.

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I can imagine a purple snarfwidget, but what does that mean other than having an imagination.

Ah, but you can imagine it, right? I am not saying that makes it real at all. But if you can imagine it, there is potential that it could exist otherwise.

No, the ability to imagine something becoming something else does not automatically give that thing the innate potential to become the imagined thing.

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I think it would have to alter, because the highest level of potential is unimaginable to us; It would have to be 'something' that could become everything and anything else ever possible. I think it would be akin to nothing, or is nothing, because once we can visualize it, call it something, that just decreased its potential and thus it cannot be everything anymore...

First 'nothing' cannot have any potential because it is not a thing at all. But I don't want to get side-tracked down that ex nihilo tangent. There's something about this quote which is even more telling.

Calling something a name does not in any way modify that thing... *unless* you are talking about an imagined thing. If I see an fruit on the table, it is a particular object. If I call the fruit an 'apple', the object itself does not change. What has changed is your *conception* of the object in your mind.

This strongly hints to me that your whole philosophy that you've described here is not really an attempt to describe reality. It's an attempt to develop a system of imagination. Your philosophy has more to do with the mind than with reality. In the imagination, we develop concepts, and we give them names, and the concepts start out very vague and fuzzy and full of 'potential'. And then we work on them, imagine them, develop them, and they become more 'actual'. We divide them up into sub-concepts, and we join them with other related concepts, etc. As we do this, we develop a model of reality. But you're not talking about reality itself. You're talking about this method of modeling reality.

I will explain this more below. I want to see if there's any more quotes I need to bring up first. *scans*

Okay, nope. There were some other minor things about imagination, but nothing I haven't covered above.

So, I want to explain my point a bit more, because I could imagine you getting defensive about it as if I'm completely dismissing your ideas as fantasy. I'm not.

If I have a method of developing my imagination, and I use it to try to build a model of the real world, then I can end up with a very accurate and detailed model of the real world... even *if* my method of imagination does not exactly match how the real world works!

Take Marx for example. Have you read about Marx's dialectics and historical materialism? If not, I highly recommend learning about them. Specifically, research how his dialectics became developed into what was known as 'dialectical materialism'. When you can understand why dialectical materialism is *wrong*, you'll definitely see the point I'm trying to make here.

Dialectics is an intuitive method of the imagination. It allows you to build up an intuitive understanding of just about anything using a few simple concepts and methods. I won't go into the details about it, but just show that your system is similar. Instead of dialectics' thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, you have instead a different set of concepts including potential, actuality, and the directionality toward complexity.

You imagine an atom, and then you imagine it joining a strand of DNA, and your intuition tells you that there's a natural direction there. This intuition allows you to imagine systems of greater and greater complexity. Which is good.

But the danger, as in the case of dialectical materialism, is in taking the *extra* step of saying, "Ah ha, and the reason this system works so well for my imagination is that *reality* actually works this way!" Danger! Danger! This way leads to dogma!

What you *need* and what you (and Marx) are missing to firmly take this extra step is a heap-load of evidence to support your claim.

So, I'm not exactly dismissing your whole philosophy, I'm just saying that it doesn't actually represent how reality works. It more represents how our mind works, when we build models of reality through our imagination.

We leads me (again) to the remaining major objection, which I do not think you have sufficiently answered: How should this knowledge guide us in action? I don't think you have a good answer for this. Here are some quotes:

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Well, it doesn't really instruct them to do anything in particular, as potential is so vast it would be silly to say 'Create everything and dont destroy!', because then we would build up detrimental things and neglect the good (like letting the weeds overtake the garden because we do not wish to increase the potential of the weeds by mulching them), or to say 'Destroy everything and dont create!'m because then we would obviously break up everything and just destroy ourselves that way (nuking ourselves is a good example).

Hmmm, no help there.

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But, it gives an appriciation to the indivdual as to what they are.

Sounds like that narcissistic trap I mentioned earlier.

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We are agents capible of choosing whether to create or to destroy, and we are to use our judgements, driven by our responsibility towards the worth of ourselves and the worth of others, to benefit all. This means we destroy the truly detrimental, and promote the truly good.

This is just begging the question. What is truly detrimental? What is truly good?

Why are we 'to use our judgments'? Why do we have a 'responsibility towards the worth of ourselves and the worth of others, to benefit all'?

Again, I'll get down to specifics: Who should you vote for and why? What causes should we support, and why? When should we be altruistic? When should we be selfish? Etc.

So far, all you've given is that your philosophy allows us to appreciate ourselves. That's not a heck of a lot to go on, especially in this world where people are stuck in narcissism where all they *do* is appreciate themselves while the world falls to shit.

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Now, as to defining good and bad, that is left up to other debates.

No, you can't get off that easy. This is a crucial aspect to your claims about potential and the human ability to guide potential. If you dodge this point, then all you are saying is "Humans can do shit. Isn't that nice?" Which is about as worthless as New Ageism.

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But this idea gives the basic outline as to how we should appriciate the great potential of our lives, and that it is something to cherish and make the most of in the best ways we can.

More narcissism.

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I think that is something we can all agree would be wonderful to have for everybody to realize.

No. In fact, it is extremely dangerous, especially when it is linked to a dogma, such as dialectical materialism. Without a solid foundation, such self-appreciation is, bluntly, narcissism. Narcissism is not a good thing.

Look, I'm not trying to dump on you. I agree, for instance, that all other things being equal, helping people to stop devaluing themselves and building up a bit of self-esteem is a good thing. But the problem is it doesn't stop there. Like religions, philosophies can be very dangerous. Even if that 'danger' is to instill a sense of apathy and complacency.

Your philosophy, as it stands, can be used to justify anything. That's the problem. It's the problem with dialectical materialism, it's the problem with any system that merely helps us to imagine things. The human imagination is incredibly vast. Most people spend their lives using their imaginations to rationalize their excesses, immorality, complacency, etc. You personally probably have very good intentions. But when you unleash your ideas onto the world at large, you have to consider the likely consequences. People are just going to take it and run with the narcissistic angle.

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But in general, we are responsible because we are free, and that responsibility will drive us to do that which is beneficial for ourselves, our brethren, and our world (soon to be universe too).

This is an unsupported assertion, similar to the anarchist's claim that radical freedom will lead to a better world for all. This ignores the reality of human nature. In a world with nuclear weapons, radical freedom is a prescription for annihilation.

Here's a simple question for you to ponder. What happens when Joe's ideas for how to guide potential conflict with Jane's ideas? How do you resolve the conflict?

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Now I'd like to defend the

Now I'd like to defend the concepts I presented a bit.

You go onto cite specific examples of people outsmarting lions (at least the smart people) and bacteria with better genes. You define 'intelligence' as being able to adapt or otherwise maintain the stability or existance of that system. So wouldn't a rock, for example, be much more stable and 'intelligent' than a person? We cover our dead people with rocks, and the rocks outlast even the people who used them to bury the others with! That system seems much more stable to me, and I don't think we can call it more 'intelligent' than the person or any other organism.

Is a rock left alone more 'intelligent' than a dead human left alone? In some sense, yes, I guess it is. But that's not really the important comparison.

A live human can easily crush or otherwise destroy or modify at will a defenseless rock. That's how we built stone tools, castles, etc. Think about it. A human with a hammer can easily destroy a rock. No comparison.

However, even this seems like a weak defense of the stability/intelligence idea. After all, there's more rock on the planet than humans, right?

This is where we have to get much more specific. What exactly is it that possesses intelligence? The answer is information and processes.

There's not a single atom in my body right now that was in my body 10 years ago. And yet 'I' still exist. So what am 'I'? I'm not the matter I'm made up of, I am the particular structure and process of that matter. I am the arrangement of molecules that when you say my name replies, "Yeah, that's me."

So, when I say that something maintains its stability, and is therefore intelligent, I don't mean the matter it's made of, I mean that it's particular structure maintains itself over time. Structure, arrangement, identity, are all names for the general concept of 'information'. A process is a stable transformation of information from state to state. Life, for example, is a process. Digestion is a process. Consciousness is a process.

So, when we compare my intelligence to a rock's, what are we comparing? My ability to maintain my identity (particular arrangement) vs. the rock's ability to maintain its own identity.

And so, we have to consider the context. There is no *single* measure of intelligence. A fish is intelligent at surviving under water. A mouse is intelligent at surviving on land. Switch the contexts, and neither are very intelligent.

So, a rock can maintain its covalent and ionic bonding structure under mechanical stress. I can too. The rock wins in this case because it is mechanically stronger. But give me a hammer, and I can modify my structure to bring great mechanical stress to the rock and destroy it. The rock does not have this ability, and so I beat the rock in this measure.

Also, at what level are we measuring identity. Remember that the concept of process is important, and there are varying levels of processes. For example, Not only does my structure hold together by ionic and covalent bonding, but there is another higher-level process built on top of that basis. My DNA reproduces in a process of evolution. This I share with viruses, but not rocks. On top of this, my cells are alive with metabolism. This I share with bacteria, but not with viruses. On top of this, I'm multicellular due to the developmental process. On top of this I have a nervous ability due to neural processes. Etc. on up to the process of consciousness.

So, while a single rock may outlive a single human, human DNA will live on.

So, my identity is not a simple thing to measure. It has many contexts, many intelligences. Indeed, at one level I may have a single identity (me, as a person), on another level I may have trillions of identities (me, as a collection of cells).

So, going back to your Jenga example, yes, I agree with you that intelligence is kind of like an unstable structure, the higher you build it, the less stable it becomes. This is definitely the case, such as in the example of a meteor wiping out humans, but leaving bacteria behind.

And yet, there is something to be said for this higher-level intelligence. We have, for example, the intelligence to make anti-biotics, and so eliminate bacteria from our bodies. We have the ability to genetically engineer bacteria. We even understand evolution enough that we can develop interesting therapies like pro-biotics, which use beneficial bacteria to ward off harmful bacteria.

And, in the case of the meteor, we can (or soon will be able to) detect an incoming meteor and divert its orbit. And so, we have developed our intelligence to such an extent that we have overcome this level of disruption.

So, you can imagine intelligence not as a single linear scale, but as a sprouting tree or plant. Even if the lawn-mower comes along and cuts the top-level off, the roots are there to re-sprout again. After all, we share an identity with bacteria. We are all DNA life-forms, after all, and only if you isolate us to one particular branch (i.e. limit our identity to the multicellular level) do we see a difference in intelligence. We not only have multicellular intelligence, but we also incorporate uni-cellular intelligence.

So, it's not so easy to dismiss this idea with simple examples of rocks and bacteria against humans. We are dealing with different levels of intelligence, and different contexts. There is no *single* measure of intelligence, as IQ tests imply. Intelligence is a property that applies to a particular identity (which may be composed of smaller identities, and which may be a component of some larger identity) in a particular context.

To make this very solid, I'll use the example of predator and prey. The wolf is intelligent in its ability to kill deer for food. The deer is intelligent in its ability to evade wolves. As evolution proceeds, the wolves and deer are in an evolutionary arms race, the wolves becoming more efficient hunters, the deer becoming more lively game. It doesn't make sense to say wolves are 'more intelligent' than deer because they are better hunters, nor that the deer are 'more intelligent' than the wolves because they are more lively game. They are both intelligent within their own contexts, just as I'm more intelligent than my friend when it comes to science, and my friend is more intelligent than me when it comes to social situations.

Broader and broader intelligence comes when you increase the breadth and depth of contexts in which you are intelligent.

This parallels the expansion of consciousness, and ties in nicely with my philosophy of wonderism. The goal then, is to become more and more aware, so that you can make better and better predictions (human intelligence), so that you can bring about greater and greater wonder. It is not merely to sit back and wallow in our own greatness, but to bring about a broader, more complete greatness.

Again, it comes back to the question of How do you face the Unknown? If you face it in terror, you end up with inquisitions, holocausts, and the like. If you face it with wonder, you end up with moon landings, and vaccines, and the like. Terror begets terror. Wonder begets wonder.

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Quote:  Other animals can

Quote:
Other animals can imagine potentials, too.  Yet, I don't know of anyone who believes apes or dolphins have morals.  I'm skeptical, but I'm reading on.

I beg to differ on that particular point on multiple grounds. First, i never said that animals could not do it too. It is a property of an agent with a specific kind of brain, ie, one developed enough to imagine situations. So, your attack there makes no sense.

Second, do you or do you not believe that morals serve an evolutionary purpose? Social animals develop morals quite often. Morality is merely a set of behaviors which maintain the stability of a group. Immorality therefor can be defined as actions which destabilize a society, ie, animals murdering all of their groupmates and such. In most cases murdering your buddies is a bad thing, because it reduces the ability of the group to survive and thrive. So dolphins rarely ever kill the members of their group (group not being species necessarily, but meaning a small society) because that would be bad for them and their buddies. So, that is morality right there in a very basic form, so now you can see it there.

And third, the potential flux is not moral or immoral, but amoral, so your point attacking it on that basis is again odd.

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So have beavers.

I knew someone would take the metaphor literally... First, see above. Second, its a metaphor, so this is a quibble I have already dealt with.

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Have you read my essay on free will?  If not, maybe it would help this dialog for you to know where I'm coming from.

I found an excerpt from your essay, which I will address:

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Hopefully, you can see where I'm going with this. Each step of brain development happened through the same process of survival of the stable combining with survival of the best able to survive. The discussion of what exactly constitutes consciousness may seem like a huge concern, but it is not. In the same way that there is no such thing as the single ancestor of humans that was the “first human,” there is also no exact divide between consciousness and unconsciousness, at least from a biological point of view. This may seem controversial, but please make sure you understand precisely what I'm saying, and more importantly, what I'm not saying.

I understand completely. Processes which gave rise to bacteria and other unconscious critters gave rise to humanity. Just so, you claim that these basic processes are all that govern people, so that there is no difference between the bacteria automatically consuming yummy materials and the person deciding where to eat. If this was all that there was to it, then free will, the ability to chose, would not exist.

However, new processes arise from the development of matter, which is what my idea describes and subsequently gives rise for the rational explaination for a free will. Let us move back to a collection of atoms. Now, they have the potential to become DNA and rocks and all sorts of things, which includes performing the processes of survival of the fittest and all that. But in their state right then, as only abritrary atoms, they cannot perform the process of DNA replication or protein synthesis UNTIL they are assembled into DNA, which has less potential than the abritrary atoms (And yes, if the DNA is broken up by disintegration back to atoms, the potential again increases, but becomes back to atoms which do not undergo natural selection for organisms).

So, this is critical, a new process is formed from the decreasing potential (increasing complexity) of structures. Take another leap of complexity, from non-brain to brain. A very big step to have neurons, you can agree, which allows for a process of direction of the whole body in a different and more efficient means (electo-chemical as opposed to just chemical). That is a new process that the bacteria and the sponge do not have. This is a major line, which through evolution it is 'blurry', but you can see the great difference between them once present.

Now to consciousness and free will. Personally, I think most animals with brains have freedom of will. I cannot tell you exactly how complex the brain has to be, but it would have to be more complex than a cniderian 'brain' (a nerve net doesn't really count even as a brain). Let's say a brain that can imagine situations is complex enough for our purposes here. There is a great difference, again you see, between the nerve-net and the imagining brain, and the imagining brain has more processes which the nerve net does not fall under nor perform. And because an imagining brain can 'see' choices, it must also inherently decide. If it was merely automatic, then it wouldnt need to see choices in the first place.

So, freedom of will is a property of an imagining brain. Human brains, sense we can identify ourselves better than some other animals, can recognize these choices better and choose more actively. It obviously evolves over time to better and better means of this (and varies between individuals), but it is a process. You choose whether or not to reply to this based on your brain's choice, not your genetic advantage or your hunger response.

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I think you might have a real problem with the phrase "create meaning."  We don't create our desire to get a job and make money.

Uh, yes you do. You see gold as valuable, yes? Why? Only because people place meaning on it. Gold can get you stuff only because everyone has agreed it has a value. That is a form of creating meaning. It is another process our brains in particular can perform, and it involves creative processes within the brain (you imagine it has value). Also, we all choose to get this or that job, and we gravitate towards the ones that satisfy a particular meaning we wish to fulfill. If you find your job meaningful, usually it is more enjoyable than if you found it meaningless, you see. The job itself doesn't change, but our perception of it does because of differing meanings placed on it.

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If I had the desire, I could lay out a convincing case that DNA does alter potentials, and that the perception of free will is nothing more than a math formula to get us to do what is best for the DNA.

I never said DNA doesn't alter potentials. I said many agents exist which are able to affect potentials. People are one, stars are one, and DNA is one amongst the many more out there. They just do it all in different ways and to different ends. And again I say that typing on here is not going to benefit either of our genetic fitnesses. But for the sake of brevity, please do not go in depth into attacking free will, since these posts are getting huge already on all of our parts...

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I'm sorry to say, you've made a huge jump.  You may think it's an obvious connection, but it's not.  Again, "choice," "free will," and "responsibility" are words that are philosophically loaded, and unless you've meticulously laid out rock solid definitions for all three, the premise I just quoted is nonsense.

It is a logical step. Responsibility comes with free wills, responsibility being the obligation to not only choose, but choose to act positively. Situations have a positive choice about them that people can make in most of all cases, positive being an action that benefits self or others. But you want me to define benefit, then explain the benefit in all situations or else you claim it is not valid. I said before many times that I do not want to go down to every situation and say "This is benefit, this is not benefit", because it distracts from the main point of responsibility existing with free will.

The thing is, since people live in many different situations and different societies, 'benefit' changes due to environment. So I cannot say 'Murder is always negative', because cannibalistic societies conduct murder constantly for a stabilizing effect for their societies. This goes into a whole other debate about morality, which we do not need to go into in this post.

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You haven't defined or defended any of your basic terms, and you haven't laid out anything approaching a well constructed argument.

Have you read the pages of stuff I have written yet? I give many explanations, I have defined by basic terms throughout, and I do not really want to retype them every time someone misses them. It ends up with the discussion going in circles and not going towards a sharper idea.

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Please take all of this as well-meaning advice from someone who'd like to see you improve your philosophy.

Yes, I do take your criticisms as mostly constructive, and I appriciate your input. My major goals are to make is clear and make it sound, which it has been (in my opinion) getting there more and more. Debate and increasing knowledge is quite entertaining for me, and I hope so for you too.

I have to go to bed now, so I'll get to the other posts tomorrow or so.

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Ead wrote:Quote: You haven't

Quote:
You haven't defined or defended any of your basic terms, and you haven't laid out anything approaching a well constructed argument.

Have you read the pages of stuff I have written yet? I give many explanations, I have defined by basic terms throughout, and I do not really want to retype them every time someone misses them. It ends up with the discussion going in circles and not going towards a sharper idea.

Not to gang up on you, but I have to agree with Hamby that your concepts are not rigourously defined. They are intuitive at best. The only reason I haven't objected so much to this so far is that I can get the gist of what you're saying due to the similarity with my ideas. However, the vagueness of your terms is exactly what my criticism of 'being able to explain anything' is all about.

That which can explain anything, explains nothing.

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I don't have time today to

I don't have time today to address your post, but I wanted to respond briefly.  Please listen to Natural and me.  You either don't understand what rigorous definitions are (really, I know everybody thinks they know what a definition is, but if you haven't studied epistemology, you might not really know) or you're being disingenuous.  I think you're serious, so that only leaves ignorance.

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It ends up with the discussion going in circles and not going towards a sharper idea.

When a discussion with learned interlocutors always ends up going nowhere, one ought to look at one's own side of the discussion.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Not to gang up on you, but I have to agree with Hamby that your concepts are not rigourously defined. They are intuitive at best. The only reason I haven't objected so much to this so far is that I can get the gist of what you're saying due to the similarity with my ideas. However, the vagueness of your terms is exactly what my criticism of 'being able to explain anything' is all about.

That which can explain anything, explains nothing.

Alright, I will go back and define my basic terms... I have been all along, but let me do it again...

Potential: The different realities a particular existing material can become (an atom can become DNA or a rock for instance).

Actual: The resulting existing materials from the potential flux's 'movements' (aka, integration and disintegration).

Potential Flux: The process of potentials changing from greater to lesser and lesser to greater.

Integration: Decreases in potential, meaning greater complexity of the material (I call this 'forward movement' in potential flux).

Disintegration: Increases in potential, meaning lesser complexity of the material (I call this 'backwards movement' in potential flux).

Agents: Existing materials (actuals) which can affect the potential flux.

Well, those are my basic terms. If I missed any you want me to define, then tell me.

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The major problem I see again, is the whole directionality aspect. The reason this is such a major objection in my view is that it implies a kind of teleology to the universe, which is simply *not* supported by evidence. Whether you want to call it 'design', or 'purpose', or in your case 'creativity' or 'potential', the basic problem is the same.

The direction I refer to do not necessarily 'lead' anywhere. It would be like moving towards the two extreme ends of a number line, which you will never get there because there is always something more simple or more complex that you can encounter. I have said that those 'extremes' in potential flux would be at pure potential's end a substance (I am hesitant to even call it that) which would have the potential to become everything. Is that an actual, a piece of reality? I don't know, honestly. The other extreme, I have called 'ultimate actuality' or 'pure actuality', would be everything, so I see it as the entirety of the universe (universe in my view being everything that exists). But how big is that? Is it limited? Again, I do not know.

But the point is that those 'directions' are never really achieved by anything inside the universe. The 'directions' are just integration and disintegration, which I said before works like parallel and perpendicular lines, and are so minute and vast that it looks like they move sideways and branch out and such. I said that probably the only difference between our views in this case is visualization, as I am sure we are agreeing on the same thing. As for 'no evidence supporting' that idea, I have cited many cases of greater and lesser potential throughout these posts to illustrate the principle.

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What I see here is not a philosophy of reality, it's a philosophy of the imagination. Whether you realize it or not, you've imposed a human capacity for imagination upon the entire universe. 'Potential', as I read your writings so far, is simply the ability to imagine possible future scenarios, with the directionality of 'complexity' thrown in. You imagine that things have an innate tendency to become more complex, and this imagination you call 'potential'. But the objects themselves do not actually have this innate property, it is simply your imagination imposed on top of them.

Now, I have addressed this before. Your assertion here is that I am imposing human imagination onto the entirety of the universe, and using human imagination as the basis of the idea. I have not.

I explained that the human mind is created from potential flux, just as all other existing things are. Imagination is the process in which a mind can create differing situations and objects in thought. It is not just prediction, which is imagining consequences, which basically are the interactions between existing things. It also is the ability to imagine objects and concepts, which are products of potential flux, and then use observation and other tools of the human mind to build up from or break down those ideas. The result is like building a building from rocks or demolishing one. This applies to everything, especially the writing of these posts. You imagine the words you will say, you type them down, and now they are real. That is altering potentials, because before you came along and typed down your ideas, these words on the screen were just unused binary code and electricity. Through the use of your mind, you decreased the potential of those things into the words you will undoubtedly type up in refutation of this concept. This isn't an imagined thing, it is an observation.

Also, I didn't say things have an innate tendency to go 'forward' or 'backward'. If I came off seeming to say that, I am sorry. It goes back and forth, and agents either decrease potential or increase it (stars are a good example of both, because they can create more complex atoms as well as disintegrate incoming materials).

And finally, this idea is not a product of imposed imagination. To your assertion before that said potentials only exist in the mind looking at something, I gave that riddle of a tree falling in a forest to illustrate the concept that regardless of an observer being there, events and concepts can still occur. This is one of them. Regardless of whether or not you look at an atom and think of all the things it can become, it can become all of those things. This is evident because of all the billions of years of the universe being here without a person to observe all the changes in potential it underwent.

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Calling something a name does not in any way modify that thing... *unless* you are talking about an imagined thing. If I see an fruit on the table, it is a particular object. If I call the fruit an 'apple', the object itself does not change. What has changed is your *conception* of the object in your mind.

I was talking about the 'pure potential' extreme. The reason I didn't want to name it was because I could call it a 'substance', but that would say it was like a piece of matter, which is far more complex and of lesser potential than what I am talking about. You can call it a lollipop for all I care, but it won't be accurate to what it is. I do not disagree with what you said at all, because that is logical. I just didn't want to call it anything because basically calling it any kind of actual would, if it were true, would not be that extreme of pure potential.

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If I have a method of developing my imagination, and I use it to try to build a model of the real world, then I can end up with a very accurate and detailed model of the real world... even *if* my method of imagination does not exactly match how the real world works!

Yes, this is always a problem with philosophies and other concepts. That is why I have been boiling down my idea until it is as simple as possible, based on the simplest of observations, in order to arrive at a very simple and general explanation of the basic process of reality.

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But the danger, as in the case of dialectical materialism, is in taking the *extra* step of saying, "Ah ha, and the reason this system works so well for my imagination is that *reality* actually works this way!" Danger! Danger! This way leads to dogma!

Dogma? Would you call gravity a dogma? It is irritating to have this idea compared with Marxism, because while Marxism says that the working class should take over society, potential flux only touches on explaining logically free will and the responsibility that comes from that. It would be better to observe processes like social stability in different cultures in order to explain what is moral and what is not, not to use potential flux to explain it. You wouldn't use entropy to explain human interactions either, would you? I am sure you could, but it would be so complex and not even worth the effort, especially when you have other tools handy to arrive at those answers. The same applies with my idea.

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Sounds like that narcissistic trap I mentioned earlier.

Again, this is extremely odd to what I am saying. I said that this gives an appriciation as to what we are, and it is a VERY humble thing that we are. We are little tiny creatures living on a little tiny planet able to see a little tiny part of everything that there is and understand even less of it. To someone realizing only that would most likely become quite nihilistic in claiming that since we are so small and therefore meaningless, what point is there? The human mind doesn't like that at all, and it leads to great problems with happiness and contentment.

But, my idea merely states that we create our own meanings in life. That is self evident, because without a person here to read these words and put meaning on them, they have no meaning. We have free will, which is evident from what I explained earlier, which inherently has responsibility attached to it (any freedom comes with responsibility already with it). So, though we are small little creatures on a small little planet, we can still have a purpose, a meaning, because we chose what is important to us. Potential flux, you must understand, has no more meaning or purpose tha gravity does, or the rest of the universe does by itself. So it is the furthest thing from narcisism that potential flux is, but if you revel in your greatness, which someone can do no matter what the reality is, then you can be narcicistic with anything. Between our two ideas, I think mine is the more humble, as it doesn't glorify a person any more than it glorifies stars or DNA.

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Your philosophy, as it stands, can be used to justify anything.

People can justify anything with whatever they have at their disposal. No idea is immune from the corruptions that the human mind can put on it if they wish to. A bastardized version of Evolution has been used in Eugenics to slaughter millions in the Holocaust, but that isn't a true representation of the idea, is it? Evolution doesn't justify anything as moral or immoral, because it is amoral. You don't ask Evolution to justify your actions. Why then ask potential flux to? It will not in any effective way. Perhaps you could use it, but I would suggest other theories about society to find your morals. But in the end, my idea is amoral, and doesn't deal with morality to any great extent.

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This is an unsupported assertion, similar to the anarchist's claim that radical freedom will lead to a better world for all. This ignores the reality of human nature. In a world with nuclear weapons, radical freedom is a prescription for annihilation.

Responsibility, remember? To me, freedom and responsibility are inseperable, because if you have freedom of action, you have the obligation to use it well. That is an amoral statement, again, because morality depends on where you are. A universal concept like my idea cannot easily go into such human affairs, but it can deal with how humans are able to even have the free will to have morality in the first place. Again, refer to other philosophies and observations on society which specifically deal with morality, not this one.

I'll have to post on the next one later. Thank you for posting again. Oh, as an upcomnig warning, I have friends coming over for the rest of the week and I will be very occupied, so I may or may not be able to write much (or at all) in the coming days.

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Potential: The different realities a particular existing material can become (an atom can become DNA or a rock for instance).

According to mass/energy equivalence, any mass/energy can become any other form of mass/energy, subject only to the laws of thermodynamics. Thus, your concept of 'potential' remains either undefined (i.e. doesn't really say anything), or in opposition to physics (if you try to say there are distinct limits on what something can become).

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Potential Flux: The process of potentials changing from greater to lesser and lesser to greater.

'Greater' and 'lesser' are undefined. How do I quantitatively measure greater or lesser potential? Let's say Joe and Sally are independently examining two objects, A and B. Joe thinks A has more potential than B. Sally thinks B has more than A. How do you resolve this conflict of opinion with an empirical measure?

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Actual: The resulting existing materials from the potential flux's 'movements' (aka, integration and disintegration).

So, actual is just 'stuff'? And 'stuff' changes into other 'stuff'?

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Integration: Decreases in potential, meaning greater complexity of the material (I call this 'forward movement' in potential flux).

Disintegration: Increases in potential, meaning lesser complexity of the material (I call this 'backwards movement' in potential flux).

Define complexity. Really. It's not easy. How do you measure complexity?

See, the problem is there's already people studying this problem of how 'stuff' becomes other 'stuff', and how it all flows together in one big system. They are called physicists. And they use terms like mass, energy, information, entropy, etc. So, I'm trying to see how your system gives some sort of improvement on what we already get from physics.

Here is a major challenge for you. I'm not sure if you'll see right away how big this challenge is. I guess if you ignore this point, then I'll know you don't get how challenging it is. Here's the challenge: What predictions can you make, that *can be* tested, and that *when* tested, reliably come true?

If you cannot make any predictions, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to stick by my assessment that you have a system for imagination, not a system that describes reality.

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As for 'no evidence supporting' that idea, I have cited many cases of greater and lesser potential throughout these posts to illustrate the principle.

Examples from your imagination are not evidence of reality. This is why I'm asking you for predictions. Without predictions, and evidence to support them, your system cannot be claimed to be describing reality.

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What I see here is not a philosophy of reality, it's a philosophy of the imagination. Whether you realize it or not, you've imposed a human capacity for imagination upon the entire universe. 'Potential', as I read your writings so far, is simply the ability to imagine possible future scenarios, with the directionality of 'complexity' thrown in. You imagine that things have an innate tendency to become more complex, and this imagination you call 'potential'. But the objects themselves do not actually have this innate property, it is simply your imagination imposed on top of them.

Now, I have addressed this before. Your assertion here is that I am imposing human imagination onto the entirety of the universe, and using human imagination as the basis of the idea. I have not.

No, you missed my point. I'm saying something different here. I'm saying that you are imagining reality, and then using that imagined reality as tinted glasses, and looking out at *real* reality, and you are 'seeing' your imagined reality imposed on top of *real* reality.

It's like the Christian who believes in prayer and miracles. He believes, so he prays for a new job. He gets the job, and his prayer has been 'answered'! But that's not what really happened. It's his interpretation of what happened, based on his imagined reality. He imagines there's a God who answers prayers, and he sees 'evidence' that this is the case.

You imagine that the world is made of potentials that go up and down in complexity in some fashion that you call flux. You look out in the world, and *through this lens*, you see 'evidence' that confirms it.

That is why I'm asking you to make predictions. A reliable predictive model cannot be faked. Newton's Laws reflect reality (not perfectly, but accurately for our inertial frame of reference), and so you can use Newton's Laws to make predictions, and those predictions will come true reliably.

Newton's Laws reflect reality. I believe that your system does not. And you can prove me wrong by making accurate and reliable predictions using your model. If you can, I will gladly endorse your model.

However, this does *not* mean that I'm completely throwing out your model until you can make predictions. I'm only saying that you cannot claim that your model actually represents reality until you can make predictions.

In the mean time, I'm perfectly willing to consider that your model may be a model of how the imagination works, like Marx's dialectics.

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I explained that the human mind is created from potential flux, just as all other existing things are. Imagination is the process in which a mind can create differing situations and objects in thought. It is not just prediction, which is imagining consequences, which basically are the interactions between existing things. It also is the ability to imagine objects and concepts, which are products of potential flux, and then use observation and other tools of the human mind to build up from or break down those ideas. The result is like building a building from rocks or demolishing one. This applies to everything, especially the writing of these posts. You imagine the words you will say, you type them down, and now they are real.

See, this is how the imagination works, but it's not how reality works, outside the imagination. I can imagine that atoms, instead of just becoming DNA, can also become fairy dust and 'spirits' and all sorts of other things. The only reason you limit yourself to DNA and whatnot is because you respect science. But if you didn't know about DNA, you couldn't use your system to discover it. You can only use your system to *describe* what you already know is true. You can't use it to make predictions about reality and *discover* what is true.

Someone who didn't respect science as you do could easily use this system to explain how it makes complete sense that they are a spiritual being, and they have the 'potential' to travel outside their bodies, and to create life from non-life, and to heal people through 'energy vibrations', and all sorts of wacky stuff.

And since there's no way to test your system against reality, because it can literally explain *anything*, then there's no way to decide who's right and who's wrong. No way to resolve conflicts of opinions. If, instead, you could make reliable predictions, then you *could* indeed resolve conflicts. Joe thinks A has more potential than B, Alice thinks B has more than A, you use your system to test A and B, and the system reliably predicts A has more potential, and so Joe was right after all.

So let's say you wrote a book about this, and everyone bought it, and people started talking about it, and all these weird interpretations started floating around. Somebody else writes a book using your basic concept, but he starts proclaiming things that are contrary to what you think the system says. How do you prove him wrong? Maybe he's just 'improved' your system? If it's all a matter of opinion, then how do you make sure your ideas don't get co-opted to support something nasty like how Marx's ideas got co-opted by Stalin?

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But the danger, as in the case of dialectical materialism, is in taking the *extra* step of saying, "Ah ha, and the reason this system works so well for my imagination is that *reality* actually works this way!" Danger! Danger! This way leads to dogma!

Dogma? Would you call gravity a dogma?

No, I would call it a theory. It makes predictions that can be tested, and when they are tested, they reliably come true.

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You wouldn't use entropy to explain human interactions either, would you?

If I could, I would. If I could use entropy, and somehow tie it in to human interaction (possibly by stability theory, as I mentioned before) to make predictions about human interaction, and those predictions reliably came true, then yes, it would be valid, useful, and worthwhile to use entropy to talk about human interactions.

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Sounds like that narcissistic trap I mentioned earlier.

Again, this is extremely odd to what I am saying. I said that this gives an appriciation as to what we are, and it is a VERY humble thing that we are. We are little tiny creatures living on a little tiny planet able to see a little tiny part of everything that there is and understand even less of it. To someone realizing only that would most likely become quite nihilistic in claiming that since we are so small and therefore meaningless, what point is there? The human mind doesn't like that at all, and it leads to great problems with happiness and contentment.

I've already explained you don't need your system in order to escape from nihilism. Wonderism serves the same purpose, for example. Other people have other philosophies. My point is that if you stop at 'appreciation', you haven't gone far enough.

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Your philosophy, as it stands, can be used to justify anything.

People can justify anything with whatever they have at their disposal. No idea is immune from the corruptions that the human mind can put on it if they wish to. A bastardized version of Evolution has been used in Eugenics to slaughter millions in the Holocaust

No, evolution cannot be used to justify eugenics, because evolution makes predictions that *contradict* eugenics.

Prediction is the key. Think about it. If my theory is that 'God explains everything', then I can look at *any* situation in the world, no matter what, and say "God must have wanted it that way." But what predictions can I make from 'God explains everything'? None. It is an empty theory. It has no real power to explain anything. If I predict "Because God explains everything, I will win the jackpot tomorrow," the odds of winning the jackpot are still random. There is no prediction that 'God' can make that is better than a random guess.

So, what explains everything, explains nothing.

Evolution, on the other hand, makes certain predictions about the world. We can test these predictions. When we test them, we reliably find that they come true. So, we can predict that we will never find fossils of rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Earth, we will only find them above a certain layer. And we look, and whenever we find rabbit fossils, they always fall in the same layers, never in the Pre-Cambrian layers. Evolution 1, God 0. The more predictions we make, the more we confirm evolution. So far, it's about evolution billions and billions, God, still 0.

So, to recap, it is false to say that any idea can justify anything. Ideas that are demonstrably true cannot be used to justify bullshit.

Unfortunately, I think your system can be used to justify anything, because it's not really based on reality, it's based on how people imagine things, and people can imagine just about anything.

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This is an unsupported assertion, similar to the anarchist's claim that radical freedom will lead to a better world for all. This ignores the reality of human nature. In a world with nuclear weapons, radical freedom is a prescription for annihilation.

Responsibility, remember?

I remember, but you never answered my questions about how your system explains responsibility. It's all in your imagination. Give your system to someone else, and they will develop different ideas about what we should be 'responsible' for. You think freedom magically leads to responsibility. But you never explain why.

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RatDog
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Pink Bunny

Potential: The different realities a particular existing material can become (an atom can become DNA or a rock for instance).

If an atom becomes part of as strand of DNA would that atom still exist, or would only the DNA exist?

Actual: The resulting existing materials from the potential flux's 'movements' (aka, integration and disintegration).

If you took a wooden chair and started sanding it down to nothing with a piece of sand paper at what point would in not longer be a chair?

Well, those are my basic terms. If I missed any you want me to define, then tell me.

[Edit: After considering what I’ve said here I've realized that I know nothing about the subject of free will.  Please disregard everything I say here unless in makes you laugh in which case enjoy.  By the way whenever I edit things is it supposed to be like this?  I've noticed that other posts are edited like this, but I’m not sure if it is necessary or not.]

It think you should probably start be defining free will.  It isn’t as simple a concept as you might think.  There are lots of things I can’t do just by willing them.  For instance I can’t fly.  I can’t picture a primary color I’ve never seen.  I can’t hallucinate intentionally.  I can’t always remember what I want to remember.  I can’t always forget what I want to forget.  I can’t make myself not hungry.  I can’t predict when I will have a random thought.  I can’t move things with my mind.  I can’t grow taller.  I can’t control the dilation of my eyes.  I can’t stop my own heart.  This isn’t what people normally think about when they think of free will. My point is that free will can be interpreted to mean that we can do anything that we will regardless of weather or not it’s possible.  The word free will does need a definition.  It is not completely obvious.

Normally when people think of free will they seem to be think of the ability to make choices within limits.  Can we make choices in this manner?  I tend to think we can.   Can I prove this? No.  If I am not making choices what determines what I do?  If the outcome of every thing in the universe is governed by physical laws which are not random in any way then the outcome of every event is already determined before hand.  If everything is determined before hand then I can’t really make any choices right?  This is called pre-determinism.  Determinism is slightly different.  Determinism says that the laws of physics are not random and everything is determined before hand, but I can make choices.  Natural was talking about this in another thread.  I think he explains it a lot better, and I’m not entirely sure I understand it.  What I think he was saying was that if all of the sudden something happened that interfered in the inevitable fate of the universe, and that universe was no longer certain in its outcome I would still be able to adapt.

Let me give an example.  Let’s say this universe has physical laws which never give random results.  What is going to happen 100 years from now is already set in stone even if I don’t know it.  Now all of the sudden completely at random a pink bunny magically appears in the room with you. This is a very special and magical bunny.  It will live for all eternity, and every once in a while it will take a completely random action.  It is now no longer determined what will happen in this universe.  If Determinism is real then you can interact with this bunny.  You can make choices in regards to it.  For instance you could chose to run away because a magical pink bunny has suddenly appeared, or you could choose to sell it on e-bay.  The universe is no longer determined but your ability to make choices has not changed.  Therefore you can conclude that you have the ability to make choices weather or not the outcome of those choices is already determined.  I think this is what most Christians seem to believe.  They believe that god knows everything that will happen, and that the fate of the universe is inevitable.  Yet they also believe that they can still make choices, and that they still have free will. Outside of Determinism I don’t see how this is possible.  If pre-determinism was real instead of determinism then you don’t have choices, and you don’t have free will.  You wouldn’t be able to interact with the pink bunny.  All the things that you were going to do you will still do regardless of the pink bunny.

If I wrong about any of this some one please correct me.

And finally, this idea is not a product of imposed imagination. To your assertion before that said potentials only exist in the mind looking at something, I gave that riddle of a tree falling in a forest to illustrate the concept that regardless of an observer being there, events and concepts can still occur. This is one of them. Regardless of whether or not you look at an atom and think of all the things it can become, it can become all of those things. This is evident because of all the billions of years of the universe being here without a person to observe all the changes in potential it underwent.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?  Weather or not anyone else is around has no effect one what happens, and yet if no one is around there is no sound and there is no tree.  Even if someone is around there is still no sound and still no tree outside of that persons mind.  The words ‘sound’ and the ‘tree’ are part of a language we use to help us interpret reality. They are not a reality in and of themselves.  If all the people in the world suddenly die there would no longer be trees and there would no longer be sound yet reality would remain unchanged.

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RatDog wrote:[Edit: After

RatDog wrote:
[Edit: After considering what I’ve said here I've realized that I know nothing about the subject of free will.  Please disregard everything I say here unless in makes you laugh in which case enjoy.  By the way whenever I edit things is it supposed to be like this?  I've noticed that other posts are edited like this, but I’m not sure if it is necessary or not.]

Yep, that's how you do it. It's more of a courtesy thing, kind of like citing your references.

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natural wrote:RatDog

natural wrote:

RatDog wrote:
[Edit: After considering what I’ve said here I've realized that I know nothing about the subject of free will.  Please disregard everything I say here unless in makes you laugh in which case enjoy.  By the way whenever I edit things is it supposed to be like this?  I've noticed that other posts are edited like this, but I’m not sure if it is necessary or not.]

Yep, that's how you do it. It's more of a courtesy thing, kind of like citing your references.

Ok, thanks for the info.