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Necessary impossibility of explaining oracular hypercomputing


Imagining Order as Hypercomputing (Part #4)


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This text could well be interpreted as an explanation of the nature of hypercomputing. However, as with the scepticism of most computer scientists (as noted above): "anything approximating an oracle machine would soon fall foul of fundamental restrictions on how information and energy flow in the universe". This applies very particularly to the fundamental restrictions on how insight and creativity are engendered and flow in the knowledge universe -- namely to the process of explanation itself and to the uptake of insight, especially collectively

Anecdote?: Much attention has recently been been given to the articulation by Jonah Lehrer (Imagine: how creativity works, 2012). He usefully notes:

The sheer secrecy of creativity -- the difficulty in understanding how it happens,, even when it happens to us -- means that we often associate breakthroughs with an external force. In fact,, until the Enlightenment, the imagination was entirely synonymous with higher powers: being creative meant channeling, the muses, giving voice to the ingenious gods... Because people could't understand creativity, they assumed that the ideas came from somewhere else. The imagination was outsourced (p. xvi)

Lehrer argues that imagination can indeed be rigorously studied with the aid of brain scanners and neuronal excitement:

The imagination can seem like a magic trick of matter -- new ideas emerging from this air -- but we are beginning to understand how the trick works. The first thing this new perspective makes clear is that the standard definition of creativity is completely wrong... Instead creativity, is a catchall term for a variety of distinct thought processes... But just because we've begun to decipher the anatomy of the imagination, does'nt mean we've unlocked its secret. In fact, this is what makes the subject of creativity so interesting: it requires a description from multiple perspectives. (p. xvii-xviii).

He concludes his introduction by arguing that creativity should not be thought of as a process reserved for "creative types":

The human mind, after all, has the creative impulse built into its operating system, hard-wired into its most essential programming code. At any given moment, the brain is automatically forming new associations, continually connecting an everyday X to an unexpected Y. This book is about how that happens. It is the story of how we imagine. (p. xx).

The book offers a multitude of inspiring accounts of creativity in action -- from which many may derive insight. The sobering reservation is that somehow these cannot be effectively brought to bear on the most problematic conditions -- such as the Israel-Gaza situation, ISIS, Syria or Ukraine -- to name but a few at the time of writing. This would suggest that, as they tend to be described, imagination and creativity are inadequate to more fundamental challenges, despite the number of creative, imaginative people claiming to be concerned with such matters.

Analogy and meta-analogy?: In contrast to the work of Lehrer, a much more substantive study has been produced by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013). This focuses on the manner in which creativity and imagination are enabled by analogy and metaphor. In their conclusion, following extensive comment on the creativity of Albert Einstein, rather than conceiving of science as "advancing solely through quasi-magical mental processes that are unlikely ever to be explained", they frame their endeavour as follows:

We have, rather, tried to show that the sudden bolts from the blue that change the face of physics are invariably analogies, often even "tiny" analogies -- that is, leaps that seem obvious once they have been pointed out... a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach once said that "as soon as Bach heard a theme, he was very quickly able to imagine all its consequences".... It would thus seem that this ability to "imagine all the possibilities" in a very short time lies close to the core of human creativity at its highest levels.... Thus, the most most advanced breakthrough of Einstein's life came out of an analogical leap that was analogous to another analogical leap -- thus an analogy between analogies, or, if you will, a meta-analogy.

Unfortunately, despite the focus by these and other authors, there emerges a sense of a situation as so admirably described by the classic outburst of Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets (1997): I am drowning here, and you're describing the water.

Under the present circumstances of constrained decision-making, the difficulty is further highlighted by Lehrer's earlier book (How We Decide, 2009). Both his books have been withdrawn by their original publishers following considerable controversy -- ironically due to his having allegedly imagined some of his illustrative accounts.

Curiously neither Lehrer nor Hofstadter refer to the earlier work by Arthur Koestler (The Act of Creation, 1964). This is a study of the processes of discovery, invention, imagination and creativity in humour, science, and the arts. Sic transit creator?

*** trapped into explaining

Non-realism?: Hilary Lawson (The Poetic Strategy, 2008) discusses how a range of "non-realist" authors (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Derrida, Rorty) have reached somewhat similar conclusions -- as contrasted with the perspective of "realists" variously convinced of the possibilities of explanation. In Lawson's terms:

Describing the world is a strangely perplexing process. It feels as if it should be effortless, but the more closely we seek to say how things are the more we uncover our failure to do so... Now there are, of course, those who suppose that the task of describing the world is in some way solvable, who think we can have access to..."the really real". It is a view adopted by many scientists and widely held in our culture and embedded in the notion of progress and the increasing knowledge of humankind. In the philosophical world it is characterised as realism.

As indicated by Lawson:

Non-realism is not about the assertion of a different set of existent things separate from the material which is prior or more real. Instead it is a challenge to the possibility of saying how things are, a challenge to our ability to speak of the really real... non-realism is seemingly at once embedded in a mire. If it is not possible to say how the world really is, if it is not possible to connect language to the world, how is the non-realist to find a means to express any view at all? ... The denial of our capacity to describe the really real would appear also to involve the denial of that denial itself. Such is the non-realist predicament.

Object-oriented ontology (OOO) offers a startlingly fresh way to think about causality, as demonstrated by the work of Timothy Morton (Hyperobjects: philosophy and ecology after the End of the World, 2013; Realist Magic: objects, ontology, causality, 2013). With respect to existence, Morton explores what it means to say that a thing has come into being, that it is persisting, and that it has ended. Drawing from examples in physics, biology, ecology, art, literature and music, Morton demonstrates the counterintuitive yet elegant explanatory power of OOO for thinking causality. He coined the term hyperobject to explain objects so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend localization. Should a hypercomputer be considered in such terms -- especially in relation to any consideration of hypersubjectivity, as discussed separately (Reality and existence of complex abstractions, 2014) ?

*** rescher ?

Poetry?: As noted by Lawson:

Realist philosophers, and those who endorse the project to correctly describe an independent reality, have tended to regard poetry as a romantic flourish, a flowery plaything, while the true work of language takes place in the realm of the literal...

He continues, however, in the light of his argument above:

It is for this reason that the non-realist is led towards poetry. If we are not capable of describing the world, such a claim cannot be made literally without it being at once self-denying. For, if the statement we are not capable of describing the world is itself taken as a description of the world - which at first sight it appears to be -- it is not possible to provide the statement with meaning since it denies itself.... And it is here that a poetic stance seemingly allows the non-realist philosopher a space from which to be able to speak. A means of talking that does not involve a commitment to the real. Hence Wittgenstein's remark: "I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: Philosophy ought really to be written only as poetic composition. Or Heidegger's: Poetically, man dwells on this earth....

Hofstadter and Sander quote a number of poems in their text. Hofstadter made very extensive use of aesthetics in his earlier seminal study (Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. Basic Books, 1979).

Whether realist or not, a related discussion places emphasis on the cognitive challenge of the quantity and quality of information with which an individual is assumed to be able to engage -- or may aspire to engage -- however this process may be enabled or undermined by an array of quarrelling disciplines (Embodying a Hypercomplex of Unhygienic Nescience: questionable connectivity enabling apprehension of matters otherwise, 2014).

The suggestion made in that separate argument is that an adequate degree of coherence may be sought through aesthetic appreciation of patterns of knowledge -- without necessitating the detailed understanding dictated by convention, Reproduced from there, this argument notably highlights the value of poetry in establishing unsuspected relationships -- and rendering them memorable.

Lawson notes that T. S. Eliot takes up a radical non-realist stance by providing a critique, not of material reality, but of the very possibility of "things":

The fact that we can only think in terms of things does not compel us to the conclusion that reality consists of things. We have found from the first that the thing is thoroughly relative, that it exists only in a context of experience, of experience with which it is continuous.

Lawson sees this not as an abandonment of the rational but as its extension. As noted by Gregory Bateson, in explaining why "we are our own metaphor" to a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adaptation:

One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don't ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we're not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity. (Mary Catherine Bateson, Our Own Metaphor, 1972, pp. 288-289)

Bateson is thus pointing to the advantages of poetry in providing access to a level of complexity in people of which they are not normally aware.

Closure, containment and binary entrapment?: It is unfortunate that Lawson's argument is framed in the binary terms by which conventional discourse is so handicapped -- with all the strategic implications of: you're either with us, or against us (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others, 2009). So framed the argument for "non-realism" does not embody the otherness of "realists", as may be otherwise explored (Reframing the Dynamics of Engaging with Otherness, 2011).

This is not however to say that poetry lacks relevance to the strategic challenges of the times, as separately argued (Poetic Engagement with Afghanistan, Caucasus and Iran an unexplored strategic opportunity? 2009; Poetry-making and Policy-making: arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993).

Lawson does indeed consider the binary relationship between openness and closedness -- a feature of his earlier work (Closure: A Story of Everything, 2001; Reflexivity: The Post-Modern Predicament, 1986). This is however the focus of a particularly useful discussion by Steven Rosen with respect to the paradoxical nature of the Klein bottle (Topologies of the Flesh, 2006).

More intriguing is the possibility of embodying binary perspectives in the light of some kind of "wave theory of being" (Being Neither a-Waving Nor a-Parting: cognitive implications of wave-particle duality in the light of science and spirituality, 2013; Being a Waveform of Potential as an Experiential Choice: emergent dynamic qualities of identity and integrity, 2013). There is then the possibility that the otherness of an alternative worldview may be encountered otherwise (Encountering Otherness as a Waveform: in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013).

Magic?: This seemingly inappropriate theme was previously explored with respect to poetry (Magic, Miracles and Image-building: poetry-making and policy-making, 1993). There it was argued that such are the dimensions of the crises faced by humanity and the planet, that it is not uncommon to hear that "a miracle is required".

Indeed, faced with the demonstrated incompetence and impotence of political leaders and their academic advisors, miracles seem just as likely to offer a way forward as conventional policy-making. At the same time, occasionally people experience gatherings which seem to offer hope because of the "magical" way they work -- without it being possible to identify how this happened. As a result some would say that "we need more magic".

Magic of course has a very bad press. Worse than that of poetry. Both are aspects of culture which the sciences have done their best to marginalize and ridicule -- and religion before them. Ironically, given the subtitle of this paper, even the Walt Disney movie Beauty and the Beast has been labelled dangerously evil by Christian fundamentalists -- together with fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons (Christian Broadcasting Network, 1993).

But the sciences and religions are now on the defensive. They have proven incapable of responding to the problems that they have helped to engender. In a sense they have provided a wealth of new tools to build a better house, but are incapable of using those tools to construct a house that it is a delight to live in. The qualitative keystone is lacking. Soulless "utility" dwellings and architectural monstrosities best describe the capacity of the sciences in metaphorical terms. And how are religions contributing to our current problems and our capacity to survive them?

The argument was developed there under the following headings:

Of relevance to this discussion of hypercomputing, the argument there with respect to how magic is to be understood is that:

Magic, according to both scholars such as Daniel O'Keefe (Stolen Lightning: the social theory of magic, 1982) and practitioners such as R. J. Stewart (Living Magical Arts: imagination and magic for the 21st Century, 1988), is a set of methods for arranging awareness according to patterns; it is not a truth or a religion. Nor is it even a philosophy, in the strict sense of the word, although there are echoes of profound philosophy in most magical traditions. It is basically an artistic science in which the practitioner controls and develops imagination to cause apparent changes in the outer world. The serious application of magical methods leads to transformation and it is the transformation which is of value and not the methods themselves. All magic derives from controlled work with the imagination.

In a major study... sociologist Daniel O'Keefe (1982) explores 12 postulates concerning magic of which the first four indicate dimensions relevant to poetry-making and policy-making: Magic is a form of social action; Magic social action consists of symbolic performances -- and linguistic symbolism is central to magic; Magic symbolic action is rigidly scripted; Magic scripts achieve their social effects largely by pre-existing or prefigured agreements.

Magic (like advertising and poetry) does not "work" because its propositions are essentially real or true; it works because practitioners become imaginatively involved in these propositions. Thus for controlled periods of time under non-habitual circumstances, they behave as if they were true. It is not a question of becoming habituated to falsehood but rather of the magician growing through the patterns, whether true or not, and emerging beyond them into a clarity of awareness that was not possible before the experience of transition and transformation. [emphasis added]

Mandalas?: Much is made of the use of pentagrams in magic. Understood more generally the question is how any such patterns are used to order imagination fruitfully. This is the case with many schematics ordered centro-sysmmetrically to enhance memorability, as discussed separately (9-fold Magic Square Pattern of Tao Te Ching Insights -- experimentally associated with the 81 insights of the T'ai Hsüan Ching, 2006).

One form of special interest, because of its deliberate orientation toward the observer, is the yantra (or mandala, in its circular form). These have been used extensively in Eastern cultures to integrate many hierarchic levels of information detail concerning the universe in a form designed to be both comprehensible and to have a profound impact on the attentive observer. Indeed special practices have been developed for their preparation and use. Significant in the light of the weaknesses connected with hierarchical representations... is the fact that here hierarchies are bound together within a common framework with detailed elements on the outer edge of the diagram and the super-ordinate sets linking into a common centre -- the focal point for the observer through whose awareness (once refined) the disparate sets of experience are integrated.

The challenge to the observer is to penetrate into and structure his awareness "through" the schematic. It is especially noteworthy that diagrams of this type contain a high degree of symmetry, as well as colour coding and symbols of various kinds. (These are in part designed to "trigger" the conditions required of the senses and awareness in order for the "programme" to work.) The symmetry features are of course constrained by the planar representation.

At best, international initiatives may present their strategic "vision" as schematics which take such memorable form. But where are the "mandalas" encompassing the current condition? (Magic Carpets as Psychoactive System Diagrams, 2010).

Implication?: As distinguished by David Bohm, the implicate order and the explicate order are two different frameworks for understanding the same phenomenon or aspect of reality. The implicate order, also referred to as the "enfolded" order, is seen as a deeper and more fundamental order of reality. In contrast, the explicate or "unfolded" order include the abstractions that humans normally perceive. According to Bohm (Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980):

In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders (p.â?xv).


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