I think this deserves a new Topic. Here is what we have so far:
nikman said... I stumbled across this blog for the first time a few minutes ago and discovered that Howard Pattee is posting.
I don't know what more to say right now. Except that there should be a system in place enabling us to pick his brain regularly on a vast array of topics relating to the philosophy of science. If he doesn't want that he should have posted using a pseudonym. You reap what you sow, dude. [Nickman] February 6, 2011 9:23 PM
Ira Glickstein said... Thanks Nickman for your positive comments on a regular here, Prof. Howard Pattee. Howard was Chairman of my PhD committee at Binghamton University. I consider it a real privilege to have him as a continuing positive influence in my life.
Please let us know how you know Howard. We can always use intelligent and courteous Comments here, so please join us.
Ira Glickstein February 6, 2011 11:29 PM
nikman said... IIRC [If I Remember Correctly] it began with "Artificial Life Needs a Real Epistemology" which was almost literally a breath of fresh air. At last, something besides all those stultifying functionalists.
The best thing up till then had been another HP, Hilary Putnam, who's still not chopped liver. More recently, of course, the computational complexity folks (Scott Aaronson et al.) have weighed in to the advantage of sanity. Anyway, I particularly love this:
"The problem also poses an apparent paradox: All signs, symbols, and codes, all languages including formal mathematics are embodied as material physical structures and therefore must obey all the inexorable laws of physics. At the same time, the symbol vehicles like the bases in DNA, voltages representing bits in a computer, the text on this page, and the neuron firings in the brain do not appear to be limited by, or clearly related to, the very laws they must obey. Even the mathematical symbols that express these inexorable physical laws seem to be entirely free of these same laws."
You asked. [Nickman] February 7, 2011 11:15 AM
Howard Pattee said... nikman,[Emphasis and notes added by Ira] Please continue this Topic with Comments here.
Thanks for the complement. If time permits, I enjoy having my brain picked. That 1995 quote is indeed what I had thought about for many years. From childhood we are taught that every event has a cause, and that every event is the result of natural laws. In fact, the evidence for both beliefs is weak or mythical.
The evidence is that we (living systems) choose what we perceive as an event and we favor events that can be described as causal and that that can be predicted by laws. We survive by that choice because it is ultimately the result of natural selection. The evidence is that most of the structures in the universe including organism are undetermined by laws and are mostly selected frozen accidents.
We have also been saddled with Aristotle’s logic of causality that can prove the existence of God as the First and Final Cause or the uncaused cause. His logic also implies determinism.
In contrast, modern quantum cosmology sees causality and determinism as just the illusion of good statistics of primordial uncaused spontaneous creations and symmetry breaking. Of course we could still say that God is a (gratuitous) uncaused cause; but how do we know S/He is not just playing dice?
Howard February 8, 2011 9:20 PM