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Date Posted:20/04/2014 12:06 AMCopy HTML

Hi All,

I have just joined this forum.  I am an ex-RCA member from many years ago, that has embraced evolution and rejected all forms of superstition.  I have a new framework for understanding reality these days.  Some of the features of this framework, which I call Emergentism, and its method, which I call The Emergent Method, are as follows:

  • The evolution of life is a subset of the emergence of everything and the Scientific Method is a subset of the Emergent Method

  • There is no such thing as laws outside their embodiment in physical existence.  The universe is fully self-contained

  • Disorder is the default state of the universe that does not need explaining; order is a transient phenomenon that needs contingent explanation and provides temporal meaning and value

  • The ‘ought’ emerges from the ‘is’, and consciousness emerges from matter-space; these are not separate realms.  There is no dualism, just an emergent monism

  • Values arise though the increasing order of all emerging systems.  They are not the invention of conscious minds

  • The border or boundary itself is the source of all cognition and intelligence

  • If life is a system of autopoiesis and cognition, then consciousness is necessarily autopoietic, cognitive and ethical

  • Moral agency emerges from objective reality, yet subjectivity necessarily circumscribes every moral agent, including every god

  • The environment is increasingly the outcome of subjective moral agents; it is therefore misleading to consider reality as purely objective.  It is indirectly subjective, just as we are

  • The classical ethical frameworks of deontology, consequentialism and virtue ethics are perhaps converging.  One arising synthesis is what I call Emergentism’s Vremetic Ethics

  • The life-stance choices of atheism, agnosticism, believing or ‘emergent monism’ are subordinate to the topic of wellbeing because they represent parts of the available methods of realising wellbeing

  • The Emergent Method would help us make better informed choices with respect to wellbeing, and would help to draw humanity towards an optimistic and prosperous future

  • The four self-constraints of the Emergent Method are risk-weighted, positive, normative, and selfish in an enlightened sense

  • Objective behavioural change occurs at a subconscious level.  I would not seek to force deep behavioural change for the better, even if I could.  I would seek to enlighten consciousness-with-instincts through our interpenetrating ideas and experiences


Do you have a framework for understanding reality yourself?  Would you like to add your own bullet-points to the above, or discuss any of the above bullet-points?

Kind Regards,

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?

Date Posted:14/05/2014 9:01 PMCopy HTML


Hi Gurthang,

All axioms and claims, including my own, should be subject to scrutiny.  To achieve this, none should be held dogmatically. To borrow an ancient observation, if you want the truth to stand before you, you cannot be dogmatically for or against.  However, this does not stop you from making decisions based on tentatively held truths.  That is, you can still get on with your life.  Further, you can greatly enrich your life with this attitude to the unknown or unconfirmed.

To be an axiom, it must be based on subjective fiat and not based on deductive reasoning.  Further, it is made stronger if based on repeatedly confirmed and non-contradictory or non-confounding observation.  Confounding observation tends to make the axiom more complex and therefore less convincing from a common sense point of view.

I have made claims that I have invited others to critique.  This hasn’t really happened yet because the discussion moved to a demanded axiomatic claim made by Ian, “God is”.  I have critiqued that claim.  Ian did not respond.

You have moved the discussion to new topics.  Thank you for that.  One idea you seem to present is that I must, in all circumstances, subscribe to the principle of non-contradiction.  I have challenged this on two bases – the idea that I must subscribe to this axiom or any other (which I take to mean I cannot challenge it), and the idea that the axiom is indeed valid.  You have deferred your response due to lack of time.

You said to me that if I reject or even doubt the principle of non-contradiction, then I would need another to replace it.  This is wrong on several counts. 

Firstly, it is normal for people to reject axioms before they are finally replaced with something better.  This is why there is a Kuhnian Revolution and not an instantaneous Gurthangian Switch. ;) 

Secondly, I agree that moving away from such a highly respected principle as non-contradiction cannot be done lightly.  It will not be good enough to just tweak it a little bit while remaining within its paradigm. That is, it won’t work to just modify it to cater for all the ways in which it does not work so well.  It will require moving outside the paradigm to something quite new.  This means the alternative won’t suit you if you want to cling to the old paradigm.

Thirdly, I have already suggested an alternative paradigm for thinking – emergence. 

Hilbert was not the point of my Wiki quote, Russell was.  Nevertheless, your analogy is interesting.  I have no objection to it.

Godel’s personal beliefs don’t really get in the way of his findings.  I would be interested in seeing a document that reconciles his scientific/mathematical theories, his moral choices, and his religious beliefs!

Your take on Aquinas seems interesting and maybe quite fair.  I would enjoy the discussion…

Finally, a dogmatic Revivalist would no doubt have problems with our discussion.  However, hopefully it would be helpful to those looking for a new framework for understanding reality. J




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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?

Date Posted:02/05/2016 9:17 PMCopy HTML


Hi Gurthang,

It’s been a while!  I’ve lived quite a bit since my last post, and I assume you have too!

Would you mind if I had another go at addressing some of your final points?

"I would say that none of the issues you raised (complex numbers, imaginary numbers et al) manage to destroy the principle of non-contradiction in logic or mathematics...

“But now it even stranger.  When I ask you whether you subscribe to the principle of non-contradiction as an axiom, you seem to say that sometimes it does apply (I presume it you believe it applies whenever you make an assertion, otherwise why make an assertion since it could simultaneously mean the exact opposite of itself), but you also attempt to show examples of when this principle doesn't apply.  But this doesn't help your position at all, because you are simply pushing the problem one step back.  You now need another principle, which tells you when the principle of non-contradiction is valid and when it isn't.  Which would prove my main point: You can't just jettison axioms, since in the process of doing so you've just managed to create a new one.  One way or another, you're stuck with them.”

Looking back, I think these comments took the conversation to a really interesting point – a point that Godel would have just begun to enjoy!

How would you reconcile Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem,  the modern Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Physics, Fuzzy Logic, etc. with the classical laws of thought?  I would even add General Relativity to this list because it also says that I cannot describe matter (A) without space (B).  That is, Relativity tells us matter/energy never stands alone or gives us the full picture in terms of its behaviours.  These modern concepts suggest reality cannot be adequately described in terms of the classical (non-relativistic) law of identity (‘A is A’), the related classical (non-quantum) principle of non-contradiction (‘if A is A, then it is not B’), or the related classical (non-fuzzy and  non-fractal) law of the ‘excluded middle’ (i.e. you can’t have a half-truth; ‘either A is A, or it is not A’).

However, even this does not get to the nub of the issue.  I think the nub of the issue, which G?del also teased out, is that all static, axiomatic, or hierarchical formalisms are found wanting.  Once we take a static view, G?del traps us and we are left with the infinite regress described by your Hilbertian Tower.  However, Nature is not trapped by infinite regresses or incompleteness - so there must be another way!

The alternative to rigid classical thought, dogmas, excessive reductionism, etc.  – the ‘static’ view, is a ‘processual’ view.  I think this answers many of your concerns with being stuck in a self-contradictory paradigm.  The process-modelling approach to reality really does turn our classical way of thinking and understanding on its head.

I hardly know where to begin, the topic is so large!  However, the processual model of reality itself probably dates back to Heraclitus of Ephesus (540-480 BCE) who suggested that the world does not consist of stable things, but is always in a state of flux.  To put this idea another way, what needs a deeper explanation is not movement and change, but the appearance of stability.  It is amazing to think that this is still a very controversial concept 2,500 year later.  It has very deep implications for how we do science, and even how we think.

Should we assume a stable ‘tick-tock’ universe that conforms to ideal laws and thereby explain movement and change, or should we start with the Uncertainty Principle’s unstoppable movement (due to the General Relativity of matter and space)?  I agree with the processual approach of Heraclitus – Nature does not follow a neat set of ideal laws (or Ideal Forms) one strike of the clock at a time.  If anything, Nature temporarily manifests laws in a way that makes common sense to us.  However, remove any of the necessary conditions and the properties described by those laws disappear along with any further use for that static, classical law.

Reductionism, and the Non-contradiction Law, is ok to a point, but not all the way down to the base of your imagined Hibertian tower.  Classical reductionism fails and a process-modelling approach wins by your own example.  That is, if we apply a Hilbertian formalism to the tower, we will get locked into an infinite process or regress rather than find what Hilbert was seeking.  However, through a fractal rule that disobeys the classical laws of thought, we can model the process or movement rather than the static logic and arrive at a more enlightening outcome.  There are many examples of fractals (and imaginary numbers) and their application to classically unsolvable problems in engineering, etc. that are available on the internet.

The point of fractals, imaginary numbers, etc. is that they escape a rigid formalism, to arrive at real-world solutions that would be otherwise unreachable.  They do this through a relational process flow rather than a static computational formalism.  That is, they are full of rich feedback and feedforward loops that can be modelled, but cannot be easily reverse engineered.  The simplest examples I can think of is baking cakes and scrambling eggs.  It is impossible to un-bake a cake or un-scramble an egg.  However, it is easy to model the processes in each case – simply follow the recipes.  That is, the most rewarding approach to life and its understanding is in a process flow with it (and its becoming) rather than in an idealism that ultimately fails.

Borrowing from Cahill, Reginald T., Process Physics (Flinders University, Adelaide, 2003 (available on the web)), Figure 4, we can represent the relationship between reachable and unreachable order or knowledge as follows:

(Sorry couldn't insert diagram - apparently I need to be a diamond member.)

The diagram may be thought of as the Universal Set of all emergent order or truths (to use Cahill’s term) arising from what Cahill calls a Stochastic Process System (far RHS) but I might simply call relativistic Movement because this is its most basic nature.  For example, modern evolutionary theory describes how the Stochastic Process System works in the realm of living things.  The black dots in the set represent units of order or emergent properties.  The units of order on the RHS of the diagram are not reachable through the Formal Axioms (on far LHS) of classical science, mathematics or philosophy - as per Godel’s Theorems.  This limit is indicated by the dotted lines.  The heavier dotted line means we know the axiom indicates a deeper truth within.  The lighter dotted line indicates we have no idea of these unreachable truths from the classical realm.  What the classical approach has access to is what Cahill calls “ensemble truths”, i.e. parcels of truths reliant on axiomatic bases (the small circles on the LHS).  Ways we can have some level of access to the unreachable truths is via complex numbers, fractals, and process modelling, although this seeding and mimicking of Nature’s processes is not necessarily easy.

I hope this helps.  I am not pushing the problem back one step in an infinite regress, but actually coming at the issue of axioms from a completely new paradigm.


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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?

Date Posted:07/05/2016 12:13 AMCopy HTML


I think you are posting on the wrong forum. We know you are a clever educated person in philosophy and big words which I would say is beyond most here, especially me, but please use your talent at least to be an 'apologetic' for Christianity, not confuse by your intellect.

God bless.
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C.S.Lewis.
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