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Shortcomings of Causal Modelling.

Anthony G Booth15 November 1999fourd.html

cybernetics, cybernetic, causality, causation, cause, paradox, conscious, consciousness, model, modelling, expressible, express, expression, reality, perception, perceive, observe, observable, temporal, time, space, philosophy, ethic, ethics, law, laws, physics

**     The Paradox of Expressible Consciousness.

As far as the notion of causality goes for modelling our overall reality, Ashby's "law of requisite variety" has something to say ... see [Ash]. It acknowledges a boundary upon the possibility of knowing by an individual existing as a part of a causal system. In a substantially changing system the limitation is in fact far more severe than the requisite variety alone would imply due to the gross imperfections of communication. These limitations of knowledge are the cause of a paradox of reality for any member of a community of conscious beings. They apply in the matters of macroscopic systems including what we term as consciousness and also in the issues of limited observability in microscopic systems which we usually handle in terms of quantum mechanics.

We perceive through our mutual expressions a paradoxical topology consisting of an ensemble of similar active entities each expressing individual consciousness. The description "individual consciousness" is an oxymoron. The "clear as daylight" experience of being conscious has, in these terms, a sort of cruelty about it ... we are trapped in its consequent paradox.

To grasp this consider the stance taken by any one of these symmetrically conscious entities, beings just like us.

We are confronted with mutually opposed and incompatible options either to assume universal causality thereby rejecting individual divine freedom:
     "Other beings are not really alive and I reject reality of my own conscious freedom",
or to assume some sort of ineffable factor (divinity?) thereby rejecting uniform causality:
     "I presume my own conscious freedom and that of other beings".

It is possible, even likely!, that either of these options taken alone is unsatisfying. Thus, if the paradox is taken as unavoidable, we might see the problem for each of us as resolving these two alternatives ourselves, and that we need to apply our own primal stance to determine how we do this.

Rather than accepting, as by the toss of a coin, an "artificial" choice of either of the two poles of the paradox, a broader stance might be sought. It has to encompass both of the poles. To deal with consciousness the only way this seems to be possible is to introduce relative values in dealings between the separate individuals. Compassion (or love) is one such scheme of relative values. It might be possible to argue that hatred is not in this way valid, except perhaps in so far as it is derived as a negation of compassion. Self interest is often posited here, but there are problems with separating it from the pole which presumes total causality.

Anyway, these sorts of heterogeneous value schemes have the effect of introducing creative acts in the face of, or even as fuelled by, the paradox of consciousness.

 

**     The Mental Hierarchy.

It is commonplace to presume our universe as being subject to (at least) temporal continuity before we deal with things like ethics and love. This is even done by many persons who are strongly "spiritually" minded. Alternatively to this I would like to try to see perception as precursor to our models of reality (a Buddhist style of thought ... see [Ver97]). This might then allow that association, abstraction and love can be conceived in a space of perception and awareness, without starting from any specific framework of time and space. From that position it might then be possible to explore how wide is the range of options we have for the choice of our models of non-local extension (such as time and space). There arises the possibility that a reality of one sort might through consciousness give rise to an introspective model of another (presumably simpler) sort, and that we could be widely subject to this sort of illusion.

 

**     Pivotal Present.

Past and future are artificial notions which can be used to bring the best possible interpretation to the perceived present. This is a more important sense of time than anything concerning what must be true at times other than the present. The principle applies both to what we call science and to ethics. How do we find this "best interpretation"?

 

**     Limitation of the Causal Basis.

Perception gives us the direct mental evidence that a local reality exists. We have no such prima facie evidence for the existence of reality beyond the local. We may regard the extension of our basis of belief beyond the local either as induced by a cultural or social necessity, or we may see it as something we choose to construct. Either way, the models we use and possible alternatives are of interest.

The nature commonly thought to be inherent in an interactive real system includes these characters:

Such a "point perception" model of reality offers no exclusive basis for the extension to introspective belief in causality. For one thing, it cannot argue the necessary existence of time because a presumption of time is a required basis for constructing a programme of experimental proof. Without that belief in causality character 2 above would disallow the necessity of uniqueness of the form of time in the model.

Belief in the existence of consciousness in one's self is in these terms no more than a hypothesis. If we are to proceed with the development of a model of consciousness which accommodates time and space there is need for another aspect or feature which can extend beyond the causal state mechanism.

The idea of causality depends upon the existence of characteristic relationships between non-local events. In order to distinguish it from symmetrical correlation it also needs a many to one form of relationship ... see Koichiro Matsuno [KMa89]. Because of its causal nature perception also requires the existence of a many to one form of relationship (many in the perceived to one in the perceiver).

Can we describe a structure based on many to one relationships and ensembles of observations (excluding any reference to time or other ready made definition of direction) sufficient to imply either the possibility or necessity of directed causality. It appears to me that the many to one condition must be associated with a commonly communicated domain of observation in order to create the possibility. This association may have to be by the use of intermediate mappings from the same domain.

 

**     References and Background Reading.

[Ash] Principia Cybernetica Web "The law of requisite variety -- Ross Ashby"
 
[KMa89] K.Matsuno "Protobiology: Physical Basis of Biology" CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 1989. ISBN 0-8493-6403-5
 
[Ver97] Martin J. Verhoeven "Buddhism & Science: Probing the Boundaries of Faith and Reason" Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, December 11, 1997

 

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