The End Of A Physics Worldview: Heraclitus And The Watershed Of Life

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The End Of A Physics Worldview: Heraclitus And The Watershed Of Life

S. Kauffman


Quote:...evolution itself defies both the completeness of quantum mechanics and the completeness of classical mechanics and unites them both. Mutations are often quantum random and indeterminate events, yielding Darwin's heritable variation. Yet evolution itself is not random, seen in convergent evolution. For example, the stunning near identity of the octopus and vertebrate camera eye evolved independently. More examples are found in convergent evolution of marsupials and mammals.
Thus, in blunt terms, biological evolution is neither quantum indeterminate random, nor deterministic classical mechanics. The living world really is "new." Quantum mechanics alone and classical physics alone seem each to be incomplete. The prior posted hypotheses of ontologically real Res potentia and Res extensa truly linked by quantum measurement, based on Feynman's "sum over all possible histories" framing of quantum mechanics, seem, in fact, to be a consistent interpretations of quantum mechanics and to unite quantum mechanics and classical physics, including general relativity, at the price of an ontologically real Res potentia for unmeasured quantum processes. The (X is Possible) of unmeasured quantum mechanics does not entail the (X is Actual) of classical physics, including general relativity. If so, we cannot deduce general relativity from quantum mechanics.

Second, biological evolution concerns Kantian wholes, where the whole exists for and by means of the parts and the parts exists for and by means of the whole. A collectively autocatalytic set of peptides, as exemplified by Gonen Ashkenazi of Ben Gurion University and his nine peptide collectively autocatalytic set, is a clean example of a Kantian whole, achieving a closure in "catalytic task space," where all reactions requiring catalysis are catalyzed by members of the nine peptide set. The "function" of a peptide can be defined as its role in sustaining the reproduction of the whole nine peptide collectively autocatalytic set...



Quote:...Fourth, and of central importance is this: We cannot name all the causal consequences or uses of any object — say, a screwdriver — alone or with other objects. The set of uses appears to be unbounded and unorderable. Now consider an evolving cell in which one or more objects or processes, each with myriad causal consequences, finds a novel use which we cannot prestate but which enhances the fitness of the cell, so is grafted into the evolving biosphere by natural selection. This "finding of a novel use which we cannot prestate" occurs all the time. The famous flagellar motor of some bacteria made use, by Darwinian preadaptation, of fragments of its flagellar proteins which were serving entirely different functions in other bacteria...


The last part seems confusing to me. Does this mean a bacteria is capable of creative thought?

Also there are times when it isn't clear if Kauffman means something is actually non-determined and what is just unpredictable from our vantage point.

That said, I do think Kauffman is an interesting thinker and I suspect there's something of interest in his ideas relating to quantum biology.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


Some more on this from Kauffman ->

Aristotle's Formal Cause And Biological Laws Beyond Entailing Laws

Quote:...What I found startled me. For K = 2, but all else assigned at random, such networks are a madhatterly scramble of inputs and logic, yet behave with stunning order. The attractors of such networks are tiny and highly localized in the "state space" of 2 to the N patterns, or states, of N genes being on or off simultaneously...

I presumed that cell types were "attractors," that is, repeating cycles of states to which the network settled. For K greater than 2, networks had very disordered, chaotic attractors. So K = 2 networks, with their tiny, highly localized attractors, were starting to be plausible models of genetic regulatory networks. Later we learned that the number of inputs can be larger than 2 and the networks behave with high order if the choice of Boolean functions is biased, not random.

Quote:Finally K = 2 and a whole subclass of networks turned out to be on the "edge of chaos," poised between an ordered regime and a chaotic regime at "criticality." Growing evidence suggests real cells are critical.

What are we to make of this kind of "explanation" and candidate laws for biology?

Quote:But ensemble models as above are clearly not efficient causes. What kind of explanation do they offer? I think the answer is that they offer Formal Cause Laws. For genetic regulatory networks: "what it is to be."

Then we can have laws about evolution where there are no entailing laws. These are Formal Cause Laws implied by refined ensemble theories.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-01-22, 10:35 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
A New Kind of Law Beyond Entailing Law: The Ensemble Approach

S. Kauffman


Quote:Two posts ago, in "The End Of A Physics Worldview: Heraclitus And The Watershed of Life," I agued, I believe correctly, that no law entails the detailed evolution of the biosphere, or human life. At stake is our entire framework of understanding the universe, for reductionism claims that there shall be a "theory of everything" that entails all that happens in the universe, evolution, life, social systems, and history.

If I, with Giuseppe Longo, am right, the reductionist view is inadequate. We live beyond the watershed of life and beyond entailing law.

In this post I wish to speak to a new issue: If life is beyond entailing law, what forms of law can we have where life is concerned, if any? I believe we can. One approach is based on what I call the "ensemble approach."


Laws, Useless Entailment And No Laws

Quote:I'm going to presume the results. Each time we run the simulation, even from the same starting distribution of CHNOPS atoms and molecules on the graph, we get very different sets of molecules as they spread out in a diversity of ways over the graph. Thus, the behavior is non-ergodic, i.e. the behavior is not at equilibrium, and may be very different on each run.

Let's assume this is true. Then each reaction that occurs is truly entailed by the fundamental laws of quantum chemistry. However, in a deep sense this entailment is utterly useless if we want to know the actual detailed flow of matter on the graph on any particular run, predicted at the outset.

Now if, as Gell-Mann, a Nobel physicist, states, a "law is a compact description of the regularities of a process," it seems we can have no law for the detailed behavior of the mass flowing on the graph.
That does not mean we might not have statistical laws, such as the mean flow of matter from small to large molecules over time.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


The Non-Determinant, Yet Non-Random Becoming Of The Evolving Biosphere

Stuart Kauffman


Quote:I write about something we all know. I, at least, have never said it to myself and hope it is of general interest. The evolution of the biosphere, a mixture of quantum and classical physics and perhaps more, is neither determinant, nor algorithmic, nor random.



Quote:If GR and QM remain un-united by the physicists, it seems of deep interest that, in some practical sense, they are united in the evolution of the biosphere.

Darwin assumed heritable variations, random with respect to fitness, and natural selection. Given the now known structure of the DNA double helix and the fact that mutational events are quantum non-determinate events, we now know that heritable variation is typically due to DNA (or RNA in RNA viruses) non-determinate events.

But even the simplest versions of natural selection are undoubtedly non-random. The eye evolved at least 11 times independently. Simon Conway Morris in "Life's Solutions", discusses manifold cases of convergent evolution. The marsupial wolf and mammalian wolf are a fine example. So too are the streamlined forms of dolphins and sharks.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell



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