Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Structure Time Logos
A couple days ago (I think it was Valentines Day) I went to my blog to see if I had any visits. My history was blocked (maybe it was a Valentines Day thing), but on the history page I found a request to for three blogs, the first tagged: logic, structure, time, second: logic divinity, worldview, science divinity connection and third: God, physics, freedom, worldview, reverence, justice. This request was probably computer generated, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is I thought okay (I had/have given up posting—old age, depression, etc. etc.). Anyway, after checking to see how much I could throw together from previous posts, I have decided to oblige; so here are three more posts (probably my last three, but I’ve learned to never say never).
A long time ago, I wrote a paper on Structuralism where I began: We must first look at the various structural models that have been described in linguistics (Saussure and Chomsky), anthropology (Levi-Strauss), psychology (Piaget) and philosophy (Foucault). It was a long paper (back then I had no simple answers). Later, I stumbled upon a simple answer. After reading the book, Order Out Of Chaos by the Nobel laureate, Ilya Prigogine, I ran across the following quote:
“Whatever we call reality, it is revealed to us only through the active construction in which we participate.” Ilya Prigogine
In language study the concept of “irreducibility” is a universal concern of structuralist thought. For Saussure, this desire becomes fulfilled in his systematic and holistic interpretation of language. It started with language but Saussure's idea that language can be understood synchronically, frozen in time, has inspired many structural investigations into the “hidden code” that other proponents of structuralism believe lies at the heart of myths, literature, and history.
Ernst Cassirer, Herbert Mead, and Jean Piaget, the three who, in different fields, ran with this approach all responded to the synchronic/diachronic approach to human experience. The conclusions of all three men, in the end, converged (Cassirer/epistemology, Mead/sociology, and Piaget/psychology). Whereas Cassirer found the origin and evolution of symbolic meaning to reside in the “work of man,” Piaget, in a like manner, put the origin of structure and the symbolic content that it generates, in the “organisms capacity for action.” (Mead did something very similar). However, let Howard Gardner's description of Piaget’s psychology speak for all three here:
“Piaget reached a crucial insight: the activity of an organism can be described or treated logically, and logic itself stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity. At this time he also formulated the notion that all organisms consist of structures--of parts related within a whole--and that all knowledge is an assimilation of a given external into the structures of the subject.” [Howard Gardner, The Quest for Mind, Piaget, Levi-Strauss, and the Structuralist Movement, 1973, p.54]
“Time flies!” or “Where did the time go?” are not just mere expressions, rather, they are actual descriptions of the “time of mind” experience. “Time of mind” really does go faster as we get older. Here’s why: The structure ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity) implies the mind-space where “identity/affirmation” occurs. What this means is that while we live, we accumulate, process, and store information. Accumulated meaningful associations (over time) speed up this processing. In other words (all other things being equal) the mind of the forty-year-old processes more information and uses that information more efficiently than a thirty-year-old (quantitatively, time flies). Or, even more to the point, think of how long it took to get through your summer vacation between your third and forth grade school year and compare that memory with the way you experience time today!
What is time? Jean Paul Sartre (Being And Nothingness) and Martin Heidegger (Being And Time) wrote chapters on the time of mind experience, i.e., produced existential (ontological} explanations of time, but explanations of time go beyond philosophy. Science also has trouble dealing with of the time of mind concept; so again, I ask what is time?
In addition to the economic value of time (time is money) and the personal value of time—life spans, time is also considered to be a measurable structure of the universe, a dimension (four-dimensional space-time continuum) where events occur. This is the realist's view. Periodic events and periodic motion have long served as standards for units of time. Examples are the apparent motion of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the swing of a pendulum, heartbeats, etc. Currently, the unit of time interval (the second) is defined as a certain number of hyperfine transitions in Cesium atoms.
Science deals with time on three levels. There is the time, which following from Newton’s laws of motion, is used to predict the future of moving objects. It terms of our solar system, this is the time that allows for space travel. Reflecting on this time, the French mathematician Laplace declared that the existence of God was an unnecessary hypothesis. He realized that the initial conditions at the birth of the universe predetermined everything, thus everything becomes predictable, -- both backwards and forwards. There is also the time encountered in thermodynamics and in the biological sciences—a unidirectional arrow of time. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates while entropy (disorder) increases, or, in other words, things decay. A third level of time is found in Relativity and in quantum mechanics. This time gets measured by the t-coordinate in an undifferentiated continuum, and, according to Denbigh, “if this coordinate is ‘taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of consciousness” (Kenneth Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4).
Another view is that time is part of the fundamental human intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which we sequence events, quantify the duration of events (the intervals between them) and compare motions of objects. In this view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that "flows" or to "a container of events.” This view is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant and, as it is unique to human consciousness, it permits the "act of becoming" that is lost in other time-concepts, “acts of becoming” that almost always get taken for granted, i.e., free will.
What separates humans from other animals (some animals can be taught, on a remedial level, to express meaningful symbols) is the experience of number, identity, language, etc., in a word, symbols. As has been pointed out by Piaget, the symbol is a product of cognitive structure, which, in turn, is a product of natural structure. The spatial and temporal structure of events is, according to Piaget, also the result of all this structure.
The cognitive structure of discontinuity occurring in continuity, identifies the source of conceptual representation--symbolic meaning, it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to physical theories. Both the world and our ideas are created from the logic of existence, the logic of natural structure. In other words, there is a necessary correspondence between mind and world. The laws reflected in nature correspond to the laws of mathematics reflected in our mind since both are based on the more fundamental law of the logic of existence, the logic that creates the temporal structure of mental events. Thus, predictions concerning the external world of events are possible because the evolution of the universe takes place in this space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication,” the space that scientists, mathematicians, and logicians use to quantify truth from not truth.
When non-being occurs in being, self-consciousness is produced and becomes, by implication, conscious of itself. Analytically speaking, this condition identifies the source of logical contradiction which, in turn, denotes the original precondition for the evolutionary development of language and mathematics. We are born into a world of knowledge and knowing with the ability to individually accelerate this knowing process by asking “questions” --the highest form of human freedom. No one can steal this God given gift from us. This divine gift not only moves us toward the truth that:
"Whoever degrades another degrades me. And whatever is done or said returns at last to me" (Song To Myself, Walt Whitman)
it also leads us to the ultimate realization--that we are one with God's presence in the here and now.
Pictures always help simplify what is difficult to comprehend, so with simplification in mind, I will attempt to describe how an increase in freedom (the synchronic axis of freedom) liberates the conscious experience of a physical event. To begin: Let the V shape represent the image of freedom. Let the left side of the V represent the empirical world (the negative pole of freedom's axis) and the right side represent the liberation pole (also negative). At the V vertex the empirical and liberation poles meet. Where the two negative poles meet Affirmation is implied. This, to be sure, is a very constrained state of existence, but still, it is open enough to allow for the expansion of freedom. Now label the vertex, the V bottom, as ~~b (not, not being). “Negations negating negations,” on this level, define the entire V structure. Thus, it is on the back of negation that new levels of freedom arise--are liberated.
The first thing to notice about the V is its openness. This openness moves the content of existence forward; in fact, one is tempted to say that “to be free” is why existence exists. Science does a good job explaining the content of existence, but it is severely challenged when it comes to explaining the “otherness of existence,” or the liberating process that structures existence. As existence and liberation move up the V, freedom expands. Freedom expands diachronically at each level of structure (think evolution here), but, over time, lower level structure becomes “content” for higher level structure. At each “step up” freedom yields a new synchronic (frozen in time) structure, one that, although different from the lower structure, still preserves the integrity of the lower structure while structuring a whole new dimension of freedom. This process continues until it reaches the level of freedom that occurs among symbol generating, language speaking life forms. Yes, that be “us.” So let’s take a look at this process that moves existence forward and expands freedom in a little more detail.
Let the V image represent the liberation of the “otherness of existence.” Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (not, not-being). The “double negative” characterizes the entire V, and implies that which exists outside the V-- the Affirmative Ideal, or, more to the point, an affirmation of the Affirmative Ideal. In other words, the V and all that it represents/manifests, via the “double negative,” connects/embeds everything to everything else, first through the empirical world and second through the Affirmative Ideal. In terms of “quantum strangeness” this state of affairs is revealing. But, this is only the first structural level; the second level occurs somewhere above the V vertex.
On the next freedom level, on the empirical side, let ~b represent the opposite of life. Life is a temporary condition, interrupted, eventually, by decay and death (the necessity of death, however, represents the conservation of the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal vis-à-vis the space that separates, embeds, and connects). Across from ~b (death), let b, the reciprocal counterpart to ~b, on the freedom side of the V, represent life, or, more specifically, life’s journey toward more evolved life forms. Life, through adaptation and diversity, expands and becomes more complex. Freedom, now on two different levels, continues to evolve until another level of freedom is liberated.
Let b~b~bb represent this highly evolved form of structured existence. We are familiar with this structure because it represents the participatory moment of a conscious self (its counterpart, on the empirical side of the V, or the b~b of b~b~bb) becomes the physical embodiment—brain—of this self-conscious. With the liberation of freedom, at this level, we experience the participatory moment of “time of mind.” On this structural level, a new freedom is produced, the freedom to freely participate in freedom. In other words, out of the embedded experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity emerges the subjective aim of a conscious self—the source of all identities, the source of symbolic representation. Freedom not only increases at the level of self-consciousness, the level where civilization begins, it mushrooms--and the V shape grows larger (and wider). This new freedom erupts into the historical/cultural environment of social interaction and social organization, which, over time, produces modernity (and the negative effects of modernity). All this too, is part of the liberation process as self-consciousness continually seeks more freedom.
In a nutshell, freedom and logical form demonstrate a co-dependent relationship; that is, freedom and logical form develop together. When freedom and logical form merge in the participatory moment of a conscious self, identity (eventually full blown self-consciousness) is the result, and, in the wake of identity, imagination follows. More specifically, the possibilities contained in the participatory moment of a conscious self are immense, but the immediate consequence is that identity is preserved in the midst of constant change.
To get an even better picture (three posts) of the implications of Logos: