The Unboreable Lileks of Bleating
Again, mere order is not information. I hadn't appreciated this subtle point, but Gilder reemphasizes it in a section on fractals. Fractals are a form of order that reveals similarity across scale, but they actually contain virtually no information.
For example, I remember reading a couple of decades ago, about how researchers were attempting to predict the stock market by looking at the fractal pattern of day-to-day and year-to-year movements of the entire stock market -- as if its future were constrained by some macro-fractal pattern, or strange attractor.
But that makes no sense from the perspective of information theory, which again produces unpredictable novelty. Gilder compares the above approach to "analyzing water by focusing on the bubbles as it boils," on "trivial patterns yielding small or chaotic effects that are divorced from the actual substance of causes and consequences."
But one "cannot predict the future of markets or companies by examining the fractal patterns of their previous price movements," because "there simply is not enough information in current prices to reveal future prices."
It reminds me of an app Lileks has written about, which tracks his movements throughout the day. It produces interesting patterns that essentially depict the phase space in which Lileks lives, moves, and bleats.
But is he really constrained by that space? Does it really mean he has only the illusion of free movement? No, not unless he's severely OCD. But he's only a little OCD. Not to mention the fact that the exterior phase space doesn't say anything about his thrilling interior adventures. Another person running around in the identical phase space as Lileks would be totally boring.
But Lileks always manages to transform his low-entropy peregrinations and encounters into high entropy, entertaining bleats. It's called art -- a little like Joyce's Ulysses, only intelligible.
I mean, that's what art does, right? It takes the same materials available to all of us, but uses them to create novelty. Unlike Tom Friedman -- who always wants you to know that he lives in a very big phase space that takes him all over the world -- you never know what Lileks is going to say. Thus, there is no relationship between Friedman's expansive exterior phase space -- which seems so "free" -- and any meaningful pneumacognitive freedom.
For Gilder, "markets are more analogous to biological phenomena," which immediately calls to mind Whitehead's organismic approach to the totality of being: in short, reality is much more like an organism than it is a machine.
Hartshorne was a relentless critic of reductionism and determinism, because "chance and causal indeterminacy" are "negative but necessary aspect[s] of" of our freedom. In contrast, determinism "is a doctrine of the total insignificance of our freedom, giving human beings no greater scope of creative options than the lowest of creatures."
Thus, with the emergence of man, there is a huge ingression of freedom, novelty, creativity, entropy, and unpredictability into the cosmos. Where did it come from? To say that it comes simply from a prior state of low-entropy order makes no sense at all:
"Neither pure chance nor the pure absence of chance can explain the world" -- to which I would add that neither pure order nor the absence of pure order can explain it. Rather, "there must be something positive limiting chance and something more than mere matter in matter."
How about creativity? "Nuts and bolts cannot evolve," because "they have no intrinsic creativity. To have creativity is to have, in some sense, a goal or purpose. Future possibilities are causes in the present, both in sustaining the entity and enabling it to evolve." Conversely, determinism "is a theory of cosmic monotony, not of cosmic beauty."
Ah, now we're getting somewhere, because future causation is also vertical causation. Jumping ahead a bit, one of the essayists references Josiah Royce, who said that The best world for a moral agent is one that needs him to make it better. But how do we make it better unless we are lured by the attractor of a superior mode of being?
Or in other words, "The divine orderer works with entities that each have their degree of freedom to respond or not to respond to that influence. This may be tiny at the level of the electron" or the New York Times editorial page, but "is highly significant at the level of the human person."
And this is a very Raccoonish sentiment: "God, instead of being the all powerful manipulator of the creation, is its great persuader, providing its entities with specific goals or purposes and coordinating the activity of all."
In fact, this is where all the human information comes from -- in particular, I'm thinking of the "orienting" or "anchoring" principles that make a meaningful human existence possible.
A dog, for example is oriented by very simple attractors, e.g., food, sex, and companionship. But what is so surprising about man is that, the moment he becomes man, he is oriented around an entirely novel set of attractors, things like love, truth, beauty, virtue, nobility, courage, creativity, etc.
Where did these come from? From the past? From mere order? No. From the future -- or from the upper vertical (the former in time, the latter in space). In the absence of orientation to this upper vertical -- consistent with Voegelin's main point -- our lives are absolutely meaningless.
And ironically, this applies quintessentially to science, in that "the very sense of intensity in scientific activity is essentially bound up with the unpredictability of future discoveries and the frequent surprises in experimental results" -- for example, the surprising result that the globe hasn't been warming for the past 15 years after all.
Notice how the so-called scientists are attempting to characterize this as noise rather than information. That's not science. Nor is it religion. Rather, it is just the illicit attempt to impose a specious order upon surprising information so as to make it go away.
Gotta run. I'll leave you with another quote:
If becoming does not create new quality and quantity, new determinateness, then, we argue, it creates nothing and nothing ever becomes. And if nothing ever becomes, then there is no temporal passage from past to future. Everything simply is all at once.
Or in other words, history is just the time it takes for nothing to happen.
(The Sipster is another guy who can fling low entropy bits of his life onto the Internet floor and turn them into art. Few people can do that, and I'm not one of them. I always need to dialogue with high entropy folks like Gilder and Hartshorne in order to extrude a little novelty.)