The clockwork, deterministic universe and emergent, self-organization
I have been analyzing the possibility of another paradigm for years after leaving formal schooling. I had insights starting in Physics 102. I have always dreamed of contributing to this area. I have also been disappointed by books such as “Chaos” in not having clear conclusions – so here is my very opinionated thoughts out for comment.
Determinism as sole causality (as in La Place’s demon) can diminish to a seeming indifference when the system becomes chaotic. Then we may have the emergence of self-organizing systems. This is at the heart of Complexity Theory: the theory that processes having a large number of seemingly independent agents can spontaneously order themselves into a coherent system. This self-organization further decreases deterministic dominance marginally by the increasing feedback of self-organized structures with new, internal rules as the new feedback is input back into the original state. The chain of chaos – self organization – emergent organization platform/arena/objects – is a feedback loop to the original state further marginalizing/deflecting absolute determination without violating determinism. But it is a separate, and increasingly, additional causality. After this self-organization and determinism work in combination.
At the start point where chaos is diminishing the absolute hold of deterministic causality – self-organization can appear. This is not magic but this is the point where determinism effectively approaches indifference. As the self- organization creates new rules in its arena or platform or structure – those emergent rules and structures feed back to the original chaos and the new, additional causality is rising, sometimes exponentially as in when wind over water creates a system of waves with 3 emergent parameters of periodicity appear – amplitude, reach and time on the scale of a hundred miles. All the while determinism is deflected but not directly opposed or violated. We live immersed in the fact that each level with new, causality not limited to determinism can create a new level a platform. Organized proteins – RNA – DNA – Cellular Life – memory – association – consciousness – cultures – religion – philosophy etc. Each platform more distant from direct causality but operates in combination with deterministic boundaries.
I will now attempt to further explain, per phrase, what I mean.
La Places demon and the clockwork universe: —– Physicist use a mind experiment to imagine a “demon” observer at the lowest level – who can measure every physical attribute of a system – to infinite exactitude – to predict all future behavior using all known and yet unknown scientific laws, this is then rolled up to the clockwork universe for all time. In this view, from the initial state, all future changes came out as was exactly pre-ordained. When math is used to generate a model of chaos (as in Period Three Implies Chaos) this infinitely specified input starting state is used to refute non-predictability. It should be noted that in a continuum there is not enough storage in the universe for infinite exactitude (infinite number of decimal places). Missing information – contradicts the chain of causality needed in other analysis such a black holes. Computer simulations of “chaos” must start with a limited number of digits and so yield a predictable result. The simulation is false. In reality (if that matters to those locked into the Sheldon Cooper syndrome) we can never discover such infinite information.
Chaotic systems —– As an example: when water wants to go down a drain or wind blows across the surface of water, at the first moment, the initial deterministic effects are at the lowest molecular level and there is no pattern or expected pattern at the 3 foot or 30,000 foot view. The water molecules exhibit Brownian motion and appear random. What is the exact nature of chaotic or random? I don’t know. There are mathematical approaches such as “Period Three Implies Chaos” by Li and Yorke. I have to use the cop-out of being effectively random at this level of granularity. In a whirlpool formation, these molecules will go clockwise or counter clockwise in combination with others or as they caucus with other groups of opposing “opinion” at increasing levels of scale for a final settlement. After a cascade of organization, it will be completely clockwise or counterclockwise. A mathematical model may describe the new structure – “Thanks mathematics we needed that helical suggestion.” This reach-out to mathematics is typical of complex systems trying to reach a new equilibrium while being driven to distribute heat. A helical model? – Is this the music of the spheres playing in the background? In the case of wind over water, there is no deterministic rule that says what will be the amplitude or width of the emergent wave system or the exact place of a molecule in that system. Even at the molecular level where determinism can hold sway if the energy level is low enough, in emergent complexity there is no clear, deterministic path to explain the final position of an individual molecule.
Emergent self-organization —– Larger patterns emerge not directly caused by the basic laws of physical science: waves, helical structures, whirly gigs, tornadoes, hurricanes, RNA, DNA, life, evolution, memory, association, consciousness, social structures etc. The entire earth was transformed to have oxygen in its atmosphere by pre-algae life forms. In this case the evolutionary system produced a process and a new arena for greater variety and increased dominance of life. Life has its own rules and causality while not contradicting determinism. The Gaia principle. Why do I have to keep repeating “while not contradicting determinism”?
Platform/arena/objects —– When structures emerge in the further stages of self-organization and higher level platforms allowing new functions to emerge – Life as a platform, DNA, Evolution, Cultures then whole new areas of causality and outcome are exploded by addition to the original seed at a point of indifference. All from a molecular level deterministic transactions. Life and consciousness and all its capabilities and rules are a new paradigm beyond clockwork determination. Afterwards even determinism can contribute to geometrically exploding variance. A person is going to impregnate their mate but gets hit on the head by a deterministic coconut for dominantly deterministic reasons. So sex tomorrow instead. The chromosome coin is differently flipped 46 times than it would have been the day before and each offspring – maybe thousands after generations and each also use their 246 chromosome dice. Does this sound like determinism having the final say? Can the causative local area contain enough information in an effective gradient to deal with these explosions? Use your imagination and there are many more examples.
Evolution is a specialized case of an organized system that creates new functionality at higher levels. Anti-evolutionist ask “how can you evolve from a two chambered heart to a four chambered heart when there are 100’s of thousands of fatal heart combinations in between”. Great question. As an example of new rules, evolution can use the Object-Orientated design of a two chamber heart to evolve to a four chamber heart. Two chambers, each has two opening, each with an in and an out valve, one connected to arterial one to the venal system. I googled for six chambered hearts once and there were two examples. Of course, they were Siamese twins but the important point is that they were somewhat viable. Three set of two chambered objects. When evolution has a higher level structure that is ratified; backbone, heart chambers feet, the evolutionary system favors the higher level structure and puts more variety in the lower level changes. I just saw this in Quanta Magazine. Whales have foot bones – not back to fins. This is Object-Orientated Design. Quanta Magazine also has an article on more small changes in evolution and less big changes. The best quality teams use this principle. None of this is directly due to determinism. This is just a few of the evolutionary mechanisms that simulate forethought of design. Evolution is not randomness; it is a system; it uses randomness in its system just as a casino does. In a casino the top level rule is “the house always wins” and so does evolution. Always onward, not just in reactive/survival, but in functionality and dominating the environment, exploiting ecological niches and having a process, already developed, (the evolution SYSTEM) ready to deal with new challenges ( anti-fragility?).
Let us stop to allow a sense of wonder to appear. In the Lord of the Rings there were two simultaneous paradigms that co-existent: Natural Laws and Magic. Now we know that we have two paradigms that logically track causality: Natural laws and emergent Self-Organization. The second paradigm establishes a transcendent base for the existence of free will – the most essential component of the human soul. Is there a third paradigm: spiritual? – Don’t answer – none of us knows by proof or logic but only by faith. But proof or logic cannot deny it either. Remember that all the PHD Logical Positivist and Empirical Positivist by the tens of thousands were wrong about the clockwork universe with a single paradigm at one time. Some still are still fighting a rear-guard. I just read a book about time that said the past is real, the present is real and the future is real. The future is not real if I have some conscious control. It is probable (not real). Catch up.