Thursday, April 28, 2011

moving up and down the Tao: emergentism, reductionism, holism

there are two possibilities to move from one description level to another:
the way in which one moves starting from physical level 0 and proceeds toward higher levels till ecosystem 5 is the one of emergentism and of complexity, where moving from a level to the higher emphasis is placed on the emergence of new properties and phenomena not present at the lower level, consideration already present in the Anderson work of 1972.
If one proceeds in the reverse way from the higher level to the lowest the way is the one of reductionism, or of simplicity, where moving from a level to the lower all the properties of the higher level are "canceled", and one focuses only on the description specifical at that level.

Then there is a third possibility, typically philosophical and not methodological, generically called holism (from greck όλος, or "total), where the description levels are taken all together,  and is based partly on basic system theory and emergentism concepts, that is the properties of a system cannot be explained uniquely through its components and that the functional sum of all the parts is always greater/different than the sum of the parts functions taken individually, and partly is based on the conception that every level is intrinsically interconnected with all the others, and it is just for ease of description that are separeted, while in reality are indivisible. This latter concept is explicited for example in the Duhem-Quine thesis, according to which it is not possible to compare by experience  individual scientific theories, one by one,  but only sets of theories, holistically. The holism has some examples in physics in the entanglement concept and in the one of hologramatic system/universe, used for example in the so-called holographic principle, proposed by Nobel prize for physics 1999 Gerardus 't Hooft  to attempt to model quantum gravity. At higher levels, such those of ecosystem and interaction/communication/social, the holistic vision may coincide with the systemic one; it is instead in general very difficult, if not impossible, to connect in an holistic way levels which are very far apart.

Then we analyze an example of "reality" or "piece of world" describing it level by level in the reductionism mode from top to bottom and in that emergentist from bottom to top, for the following image of reality:

The card players - Les joueurs de cartes
Paul Cézanne
oil on canvas 47 x 56 cm 1890-1892

Reductionist level 5: ecosystem
Two men play card, and probably sometimes talk, making use of a table presumably by wood, in a place one may speculate as a tavern, probably of a village or in the countryside from the enviromental context marker which is possible to note from the mirror upon them which reflects outside, revealing as a countryside landscape. From the image there are no information on where and when this scene takes place, but we can certainly say that  occurs about 13 billions of years after the birth of the universe in a emergerged continent on the third planet of a solar system of a G2V star of yellow dwarf type, placed rather toward the external edges of a barred spiral galaxy.

Reduzionist level 4: interaction/social

Two men are performing an interactive activity very special called play. The scopes and methods of such an activity vary depending of the type of game and of the age of the players. In this case, since they are two adults who use a tool called "cards" - composed of dozens of different figures printed, in fact, on paper - the business is to get to the end of the game for both players through a set of specific rules game. The end of the game, which was also codified into rules, is generally opposite between the two players and called "victory " for one and  "loss" for the other. The goal for both players is to reach the end of the game called "victory".
The social level can be estimeted primarily by the marker on clothing and the supposed context of the province: both could be worth an indication of a middle class in the usual fashion, or a lower middle class with one of their best clothes. It has to be noted the use of hats with a of social function rather than functional to protect themselves from the weather conditions. The shaving of facial hair present in these two males can be considered of social use. From the type of clothing is possible here to estimate that the scene can takes place about the beginning of the 800s up to the present day in a western-style society.

Reduzionist level 3: organism/biological

The individual of male sex has self-named himself man (Homo sapiens sapiens, Linnaeus, 1758), also called uman being, a subspecies of Homo sapiens, a bipedal primate  memeber of the family of hominids which includes many extinct genera and seven different living species of big monkeys. The species H. sapiens - of african origin such the same genus Homo - is a primate with short  hair, adapted to terrestrial life, omnivore e and the eating habits of the original hunter-gatherer. The species, as all primates, has sexual reproduction. Its current distribution is almost cosmopolitan, and is by far the dominant species on the planet.
Both men and women have a brain very structured and developed, in proportion to the size of the individual, and able to abstract reasoning, language and introspection. This mental capacity, combined with the upright posture that frees the upper limbs, left grasping for the arboreal origin common to the whole species, allowed to manipulate the objects and allowed humanity to create a wide variety of tools.
From the african origin, about 200 000 y.a. from Homo erectus to date, the species has spread over almost the entire surface of the land with a total population that has passed, in March 2011, 6.9 billion people.
Similar to most primates, humans are social animals. They are also particularly successful in using systems of communication for the expression, the exchange of ideas and for organization. Men create complex social structures composed by cooperating and competing groups, which vary from small families and associations to large political, scientific and economical unions. The social interaction has introduced a very large variety of traditions, rituals, behavioral and moral rules, social norms and laws which form the basis of the human society. Men also have a marked appreciation for beauty and aesthetics which, combined with the human desire of self-expression, have led to cultural innovations such art, literature and music.
The men seem to express a wish to understand and influence the world around them, trying to understand, explain and manipulate natural phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of technological tools and advanced skill;, the men are the only species still alive that uses fire, cook their own foods, dresses, and use many other technologies.

Reduzionist level 2: biological/cellular

As an animal, the human is an eukaryotic species. Every diploid cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, received from both parents. Of these, 22 pairs are autosomes and a pair are sexual chromosomes. It is estimated that humans have about 20000 or 25 000 genes. As with other mammals, females have identical sex chromosomes (XX) and males have different sex chromosomes (XY). The X chromosome is larger and carries more genes than the Y chromosome: that means that any disease of the X chromosome occurs more easily in men, because any errors in genes on the X chromosome which are not present at the  same time in the Y should causing damage to the human phenotype; however, since in the Y chromosome there are many genes that are not also present in the X, among all SRY which is present in many other animals, the male genetic heritage is overall larger than the female and allows the formation of more tissue in males, which implies a strong contribution to sexual dimorphism.
The genome is composed by 46 separate chromosomes (22 pairs of autosomes + X + Y) with a total of con un totale di approximately 3,2 billions of base pair of DNA conteining about 20,000–25,000 genes.
Before the human being reaches adulthood, the body consists of 100.000 billions of cells, grouped in tissues and parts of systems or organs  whose purpose is to enable essential vital functions. The organ systems of the human body include: circulatory system, immune system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, muscular system, skeletal system, nervous system, endocrine system and the male and female reproductive system.

Reduzionist level 1: chemical/molecular

It is necessary to distinguish between the biological individual and the other elements of the scene.
The first is basically composed by water and characterized by the presence of macromolecules and molecules of organic type based on carbon and its bonding, such proteins, nucleic acids and lipids. Among the inorganic elements should be noted the presence of a macromolecule in the cellulose contained in the central element, associated with lignin. In the upper element with reflective characteristics should be noted the presence mainly of  silicon dioxide with other oxides. Then there is the widespread presence of a gas, transparent in the figure, composed mainly by nitrogen and oxigen, singular characteristic typical of the higher levels, with remaining minor portions of other gases such and carbon dioxide. In a small spot of the image it is noted a exothermic reaction, probably due to the combustion of some kind of compounds.

Reduzionist level 0: physical - Emergentist levelo 0: physical

The reductionist and emergentist descriptions at level 0 coincide. What is present at the elementary level are protons, neutrons, electrons, at a less elementary level they are present in a bounded state called atom. According to the number of protons, equal to the number of electrons, in the various atoms there is the presence of different elements. The largest is nitrogen, in the trasparent gas diffused in the image, then there are relevant traces of hydrogen, oxigen and heavier elements such carbon, iron till about zinc. There is also the presence of photons in the solar light that illuminates the scene, some cosmic rays and (perhaps) some passing neutrinos and the omnipresent background cosmic microwave radiation.

Emergentist levelo 1: chemical/molecular

The atoms of the different elements present at level 0 join by chemical bonding making a wide variety of compounds, molecules and macromolecules. Single or bonded atoms are present in the gas that fills the scene. Compounds with elements even heavy are present in the two objects in the middle and on top of the image. In particular the first has the property to reflect the incident photons on its surface, while all the others absorb it and reflect only a fraction with specific wavelenghts. The molecules and macromolecules far more complex are present in the object on the left of the image, mainly based on carbon bonded with other elements in various forms, making long chemival chains with multiple properties: replication, self-replication, energy sources, catalysts and reaction controllers etc.

Emergentist levelo 2: cellular/biological

The compounds, molecules and macromolecules present at level 1 group together in various ways and structures: in the non-organic objects they group in mixtures or alloys, in the amorphous solid state in the object placed on top of the scene, composed mainly by amorphous silica. In the object at the center of the scene are present polysaccharides and an heavy and complex organic polymer mainly made by phenolic compounds which suggest that it is of organic origin. In the item on the left of the scene the compunds, mainly of carbon, are  combined in long molecular sequences and form morphofunctional structures , that is of form and function, of very different types but with unique common characteristics od reproduction/self-replication, complex reactions for energy production, responses to external  stimuli, retention over time of their own structure even with a continuos replacement of components.

Emergentist level 3: biological/organism

The morphofunctional units of level 2 join together in assemblies at different levels which make several types of systems, at least four included the overall structure, structurally very different and associated by function. The general ensemble has the properties of multiple structural and functional units, system integration, internal transmission of information  and among different systems, growth, reproduction, evolution characteristics and interaction with the external environment.

Emergentist level 4: interaction/social

Two of the systems of level 3 use their property of interacting with the external. It is supposed that they are exchanging information by the use of the colored figures which are manipulating.

Emergentist level 5: ecosystem
From the reflecting structure present in the scene one can deduce the presence of an external environment extremely variegated and complex with many of the system properties present in the internal of the scene. This is also illuminated with a radiation with wavelength at least from 400 to 700 nm, since the color spectrum and the photons present at level 0, of unknown origin, coming from the external of the scene. It is noted the presence of morphogenetic structures both complex and with simple simmetries. The presence of elements and compounds at the gaseous state at level 1 indicates the presence of a compound gas in the environment.

The overall description should not be complete without specifying the context and, if any, the meta-context markers.
The context derives from the fact that we are not describing a scene while physically present in a bistrot of the french countryside at the end of the 800s observing two men playing card, but we are using a representation of that scene, specifically a painting of oil over canvas.
Also of the context we may have a description, and in this case it is in art criticism field, for example:
"Two men in a tavern in the country are playing cards in front of a mirror. The image shows a pattern strongly geometric, which gives dignity to the two classic characters. Twisting the perspective view, Cezanne is able to obtain the highest degree of centrality, that is credible in a scene from real life: this slight deviation from the center is a keen ploy to avoid the risk that the work is too contrived: the things we do not are never in a state of perfect balance. The whole painting is made ​​up of lowering the tone of the colors blue, yellow and red. The strokes are made with wooden blocks, and sometimes they are solitary and synthetic, as a reflection on the bottle or just the section that describes the sunken eye of the right player.
In Cézanne's painting, not only makes an impression, but also a description of the internal sense action, as if the summary is intended to remain in the mind, almost calcified and as a memory."


The meta-context marker in this case is present, since we are not describing the scene observing the painting of Cézanne personally in a room of Musée d'Orsay of Parigi, but we are viewing a jpg image of 640x533 px displayed by a browser on a monitor, presumably allocated on a PC or mobile device, getting it through a fixed or mobile connection from one of the servers of, where it resides, by internet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

sympathy for the (half) Tao

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long years
Stole many a man's soul and faith

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
(woo woo, woo woo)

I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me
(who who, who who)

Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
(woo woo, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
(who who)
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
(who who, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
(woo woo, who who)

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(who who, who who)

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
(woo woo)
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
(who who)
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
(woo woo, woo woo)

Conditioning (the Devil) - XV Major

This card recalls an old Zen story, about a lion who was brought up by sheep and who thought he was a sheep until an old lion captured him and took him to a pond, where he showed him his own reflection. Many of us are like this lion - the image we have of ourselves comes not from our own direct experience but from the opinions of others. A "personality" imposed from the outside replaces the individuality that could have grown from within. We become just another sheep in the herd, unable to move freely and unconscious of our own true identity.

It's time to take a look at your own reflection in the pond, and make a move to break out of whatever you have been conditioned by others to believe about yourself. Dance, run, jog, do gibberish - whatever is needed to wake up the sleeping lion within.

Unless you drop your personality you will not be able to find your individuality. Individuality is given by existence; personality is imposed by the society. Personality is social convenience.

Society cannot tolerate individuality, because individuality will not follow like a sheep. Individuality has the quality of the lion; the lion moves alone. The sheep are always in the crowd, hoping that being in the crowd will feel cozy. Being in the crowd one feels more protected, secure. If somebody attacks, there is every possibility in a crowd to save yourself. But alone? - only the lions move alone.

And every one of you is born a lion, but the society goes on conditioning you, programming your mind as a sheep. It gives you a personality, a cozy personality, nice, very convenient, very obedient. Society wants slaves, not people who are absolutely dedicated to freedom. Society wants slaves because all the vested interests want obedience.

The roots of conditioning are multiple and deep; the figure shows as from the base level which surrounds us (the environment and the society - the world - in which we live and lived) several actions at different levels act on our biological, neural and cultural processes as a conditioning toward the higher cognition levels, determining who we believe to be.

Metalogue: what is the instinct of Tao?

Definition of insinct: in animal psychology and ethology, “nervous mechanism hierarchically organized, with innate action patterns, sensitive to certain environmental stimuli that arouse it, put it in action and direct it, to which it responds with well-coordinated movements which have as their purpose the preservation of the individual or species". The animal instinct (which leads for example the birds to build nests) is more complex than reflection; does not change either during the life of the individual or through several generations of individuals of the same species, and become less rigid or preformed and so much more connected to learning as going up in the zoological scale..

quoted from Nikolaas Tinbergen, Nobel prize 1973 in Physiology and Medicine shared with  Karl von Frisch and Konrad Lorenz

Definition of Metalogue: A metalogue is a conversation about some problematic subject. This conversation should be such that not only do the participants discuss the problem but the structure of the conversation as a whole is also relevant to the same subject.

Notably, the history of evolutionary theory is inevitably a metalogue between man and nature, in which the creation and interaction of ideas must necessarily exemplify evolutionary process.

Daughter: Daddy, what is an instinct?
Father: An instinct, my dear, is a explanatory principle.
D: But what does it explain?
F: Anything—almost anything at all. Anything you want it to explain.
D: Don't be silly. It doesn't explain gravity.
F: No. But that is because nobody wants "instinct" to explain gravity. If they did, it would explain it. We could simply say that the moon has an instinct whose strength varies inversely as thesquare of the distance .. .
D: But that's nonsense, Daddy.
F: Yes, surely. But it was you who mentioned "instinct," not I.
D: All right—but then what does explain gravity?
F: Nothing, my dear, because gravity is an explanatory principle.
D: Oh.

D: Do you mean that you cannot use one explanatory principle to explain another? Never?
F: Hmm . . . hardly ever. That is what Newton meant when he said,"hypotheses non fingo."
D: And what does that mean? Please.
F: Well, you know what "hypotheses" are. Any statement linking together two descriptive statements is an hypothesis. If you say that there was a full moon on February 1st and another on March 1st; and then you link these two observations together in any way, the statement which links them is an hypothesis.
D: Yes—and I know what non means. But what's fingo?
F: Well—fingo is a late Latin word for "make." It forms a verbal
noun fictio from which we get the word "fiction."
D: Daddy, do you mean that Sir Isaac Newton thought that all hypotheses were just made up like stories?
F: Yes—precisely that
D: But didn't he discover gravity? With the apple? F: No, dear. He invented it.
D: Oh.... Daddy, who invented instinct?

F: I don't know. Probably biblical.
D: But if the idea of gravity links together two descriptive statements, it must be an hypothesis.
F: That's right.
D: Then Newton did fingo an hypothesis after all.
F: Yes—indeed he did. He was a very great scientist.
D : Oh.

D: Daddy, is an explanatory principle the same thing as anhypothesis?
F: Nearly, but not quite. You see, an hypothesis tries to explain some particular something but an explanatory principle—like "gravity" or "instinct"—really explains nothing. It's a sort of conventional agreement between scientists to stop trying to explain things at a certain point.
D: Then is that what Newton meant? If "gravity" explains nothing but is only a sort of full stop at the end of a line of explanation, then inventing gravity was not the same as inventing an hypothesis, and he could say he did not fingo any hypotheses.
F: That's right. There's no explanation of an explanatory principle. It's like a black box.
D: Oh.

the Places of Tao

Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument near Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.

The building has a squared line divided by steps and appears like a mountain; from the top view is visible its complexity and its architecture. It is the most visited monument of all Indonesia.

From 1991 has been included by UNESCO as a world heritage site.