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Hypercomputing as imaginative enactment


Imagining Order as Hypercomputing (Part #6)


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As stressed above, any description of imagining is fundamentally misleading -- as with instructions on riding a bicycle. The key in that example lies in engaging in the process and working with a sense of balance as it emerges. In the case of imaginative enactment, the question is what emerges as a sense of mutually constraining (cyclic) processes corresponding in some ways to a sense of balance -- eliciting a sense of cognitive balance.

An earlier experiential example is provided by learning to walk. A more complex example is provided by piloting a helicopter -- where there is a degree of significance attributed to so-called "seat-of-the-pants" comprehension of the variety of factors to be held in balance. Again this cannot be "explained". As designer of the Bell helicopter, Arthur Young subsequently endeavoured to generalize from those insights to enable the operation of a "psychopter" -- understood by him as the "winged self" (Geometry of Meaning, 1976), as discussed separately (Engendering a Psychopter through Biomimicry and Technomimicry: insights from the process of helicopter development, 2011).

Related understanding was promoted as enaction by Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch (The Embodied Mind: cognitive science and human experience, 1992). The term was understood to "emphasize the growing conviction that cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs". A chapter in that work by Francisco Varela was entitled with the Buddhist metaphor of "laying down a path through walking" (pp. 237-254). It was subtitled "science and experience in circulation".

Whether bicycle or helicopter, or even walking, there is clearly need to "re-cognize" that more than imagination is implied. There is a subtle order to that imagination for which those examples are helpful. This implies a subtle creative relationship between imagining and ordering to be discovered through what in each case is a question of dynamically managing cycles through their cognitive embodiment.

Phenomenolgical epoché: Varela offered one image to illustrate the cognitive cycles calling for interrelationship through the phenomenological epoché (The Gesture of Awareness, 1999) [see also Claus Otto Scharmer. Three Gestures of Becoming Aware: Conversation with Francisco Varela January 12, 2000]. With respect to the argument above, Varela's representation of the may be fruitfully compared compared to two other representations as in the following table (from Present Moment Research: exploration of nowness, 2001). The Borromean rings/knots are a focus of the psychoanalytic approach of Jacques Lacan and figures in early depiction of the Chritian Trinity.

Borromean rings
(notable for their topological implications)
Phenomenological epoché
(explored by Francisco Varela)
Traditional Celtic knot pattern
(and its associations to the mythopoeic of the megalithic period)
Celtic knot pattern

Varela proposes a 3-fold cycle at the core of the act of becoming aware in the moment:

  • an initial phase of suspension of habitual thought and judgement,
  • followed by a phase of conversion of attention from 'the exterior' to 'the interior',
  • ending with a phase of letting-go or of receptivity towards the experience.

Varela sees the phenomenological epoché as "the ensemble of these three organically linked phases", for the simple reason that the second and third are always reactivated by, and reactivate, the first. He provides a valuable discussion of the three interlinked cycles and the obstacles traditionally recognized to some of their processes.

The above images also figure in separate discussions (Engaging with Globality through Dynamic Complexity, 2009; Cognitive Cycles Vital to Sustainable Self-Governance, 2009; Interestingness, suggestiveness, memorability and presentation, 2014 )

Cognitive / Imaginative hypercycle? In imagining hypercomputing with such suggestions, it is appropriate to note the manner in which the schematics above might be understood in terms of a hypercycle as a hypothetical stage of macromolecular evolution. What is however required is a sense of cognitive implication in what is is otherwise described in terms of molecular chemistry, as originally articulated by M. Eigen and P. Schuster (The Hypercycle: a principle of natural self-organization, 1979):

The hypercycle is a self-reproducing macromolecular system, in which RNAs and enzymes cooperate in the following manner.

There are RNA matrices ( Ii ); i-th RNA codes i-th enzyme Ei (i = 1,2,...,n); the enzymes cyclically increase RNA's replication rates, namely, E1 increases replication rate of I2 , E2 increases replication rate of I3 , ..., En increases replication rate of I1 . In addition, the mentioned macromolecules cooperate to provide primitive translation abilities, so the information, coded in RNA-sequences, is translated into enzymes, analogously to the usual translation processes in biological objects. The cyclic organization of the hypercycle ensures its structure stability. For effective competition, the different hypercycles should be placed in separate compartments. (Hypercycles, Principia Cybernetica Web)

Of relevance is the articulation by Wolfgang Wildgen (Semiotic hypercycles driving the evolution of language, Axiomathes, 18, 2008)

The evolution of human symbolic capacity must have been very rapid even in some intermediate stage (e.g. the proto-symbolic behavior of Homo erectus). Such a rapid process requires a runaway model. The type of very selective and hyperbolically growing self-organization called "hypercyle" by Eigen and Schuster could explain the rapidity and depth of the evolutionary process, whereas traditional runaway models of sexual selection seem to be rather implausible in the case of symbolic evolution. We assume two levels: at the first level the species is adapted to ecological demands and accumulates the effects of this process in the genome. At the second level a kind of social/cultural knowledge is accumulated via a set of symbolic forms, one of which is language. [Karl] Bühler's model of three basic functions of signs [organon model] can also be elaborated so that its cyclic structure becomes apparent.

Cognitive autopoiesis?: Consistent with the above argument, the process of autopoiesis is also suggestive of a way of understanding the cognitive processes of hypercomputing (Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela, Autopoiesis and Cognition: the realization of the living, 1980). The jacket description of this much-cited work is of relevance:

This is a bold, brilliant, provocative and puzzling work. It demands a radical shift in standpoint, an almost paradoxical posture in which living systems are described in terms of what lies outside the domain of descriptions. Professor Humberto Maturana, with his colleague Francisco Varela, have undertaken the construction of a systematic theoretical biology which attempts to define living systems not as they are objects of observation and description, nor even as interacting systems, but as self-contained unities whose only reference is to themselves. Thus, the standpoint of description of such unities from the 'outside', i. e. , by an observer, already seems to violate the fundamental requirement which Maturana and Varela posit for the characterization of such systems -- namely, that they are autonomous, self-referring and self-constructing closed systems -- in short, autopoietic systems in their terms. Yet, on the basis of such a conceptual method, and such a theory of living systems, Maturana goes on to define cognition as a biological phenomenon; as, in effect, the very nature of all living systems. And on this basis, to generate the very domains of interaction among such systems which constitute language, description and thinking.

Hypercycles can be related to autopoiesis, as argued by Harald Hüning (Constructing Higher-order Hypercycles inspired by a Model of Autopoiesis, 2009):

The principle of the hypercycle accounts for the increase of information in autocatalytic nets while maintaining internal stability against errors... Self-reproducing entities are connected in a cycle where each member gives catalytic support to its successor [as in the schematic above]. Another principle of self-reproduction and repair comes from the theory of autopoiesis. Only one simulation model of autopoiesis is known (Varela et al., 1974) which has been re-examined several times... Hypercycles have been confirmed as the working principle in the natural example of a viral infection mechanism by quantitative analysis... and since 1991 lattice-based simulations of hypercycles have been performed where spatial structures have been found...

Autopoiesis and creativity: Understanding of autopoiesis has been applied to the creative process by Takashi Iba (An Autopoietic Systems Theory for Creativity, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2010) in a manner which appears to take little effective account of the constraints on description discussed above, and the role of imagination:

In this paper, a new, non-psychological and non-sociological approach to understanding creativity is proposed. The approach is based on autopoietic system theory, where an autopoietic system is defined as a unity whose organization is defined by a particular network of production processes of elements. While the theory was originally proposed in biology and then applied to sociology, I have applied it to understand the nature of creation... A creative system is an autopoietic system whose element is "discovery", which emerges only when a synthesis of three selections has occurred: "idea", "association", and "consequence". With using these concepts, we open the way to understand creation itself separated from psychic and social aspects of creativity. On this basis, the coupling between creative, psychic, and social systems is discussed.


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