17 November, 2010

The Earth Simulator

How Plurality Misleads

Here we go again!

In the introductory paragraph the article The Earth Simulator in the recent New Scientist (2784), Philip Ball first mentions the bankers as the cause of the recent Bank Crash, and subsequent world-wide recession, but within the same sentence switches to the real culprit - “the complexities of a system…which allows this…to morph into ..an unavoidable.. systems collapse”.

Now this “necessary admission of the truth” then goes on to suggest the only way that we could avoid such a reoccurrence in the future, albeit in another area, but with similar consequences. That new way, it seems, says we must harness the number crunching power of modern computing with our emerging understanding of the Physics of Complex Systems, to enable us to rebuild our theories of Economics from the bottom up.

But, that crisis wasn’t caused by ignorance, but by knowledge and dishonesty. The perpetrators didn’t “lose their shirts” by themselves backing very dodgy long shots! On the contrary, they made damn sure they would walk away early with pockets stuffed with money, while others would be left to foot the bill, and ultimately (as is crystal clear now with the new Tory government) the ordinary people would have to pay in lost jobs, lost services and poorer education.

And therefore the “solution” proffered here must be seen for what it is - another tired and wilfully dishonest means of tidying away the real truth, and blaming it on mere natural and unchangeable Complexity.

For the suggestion about bringing in Complexity Theory will do nothing except make it easier for the same type of thieves to succeed again, without being sussed until it is too late, and they are already cruising out the subsequent crisis in the South Seas.

There is a system to blame however, but it is nothing natural.

It is the Capitalist System, and its crises are due, as always, to the unavoidable declining rate of profit. Where are they to get the funding from to finance the necessary innovation, and the expected returns on investment? Surely, only by telling lies!

The experts have to “use” that system to persuade, those who invest money on other people’s behalf (like pension funds for example) to “back this new certainty”, and while building the coffers of the Funds they work for, can do very nicely for themselves while they are at it.

Now, this is not a political paper. But it is, nevertheless, essential to demolish the seemingly authorative advice given by these “well-informed” people. We have to sweep away the papering over and be clear on what really happened.

But, in addition, we must also be informed of the total lack of substance in the promises made here about Science enabling us to avoid such “mistakes” in the future.

Now, I do not know who Philip Ball is, and why he should be in a position to be able to supply the solution to this problem. But, I doubt that he is as well qualified, and experienced as myself to pronounce on the methods that he is proposing.

I ended up as a Director of Information Technology in a College of London University, after previous posts in Hong Kong and Glasgow, where I was an expert in the application of computers to all kinds of serious research - from computerising complex kit such as Gas Liquid Chromatographs, and sophisticated Engineering rigs, and in difficult Physiological investigation via new taxonomies in Zoology, and even in the Teaching of Dance using Multimedia Resources (for which I and my colleague won a BIVA award).

For a time I was involved in helping researchers into… guess what? Chaos and Complexity Theory, and have recently published a Theory of Emergences after many years of personal research.

It is therefore not by chance that only one week before the issue of this particular New Scientist containing this article was published I was moved to severely criticise the whole standpoint revealed in the above position, and to tackle it from their own supposed ground. This resulted in the paper The Myth of Simulation: Pluralistic “holism” and the Real thing.

This paper is included here today!

Issue 15 of Shape

18 October, 2010

Review: Bennett’s Theory of Evolution

Turn here for Chaos!

The resplendent graphics along with the tables and graphs of Keith Bennett’s article in New Scientist (2782) promise a major revision of Darwin’s Natural Selection, and as that had been written as The Origin of Species 150 years ago, and as much has been discovered since then, you would certainly expect that many major additions and improvements, not to mention substantial revisions would have been discovered by now.

But Darwin’s Theory is hard to dismiss, not least because it is that rare yet essential factor in Science – a truly holistic theory. Instead of a straight forward encapsulation of carefully measured data into a deterministic equation, we have a set of ideas which explained how evolution happened – one you might call a real scientific theory as distinct from a merely abstracted relation. So, as someone involved in closely associated researches (The Theory of Emergence), I looked forward to more evidence to add to a raft of recent quality contributions (in the magazine), which certainly are pointing the way to important updates in Darwin’s Theory.

Yet, though this is a relatively short article, the first two thirds is concerned with his own and others current investigations (mostly on the fairly recent geological past in the glaciations and interglacials of the late Quaternary). His problem was that these dramatic and large-scale changes in the environment did not have the effects on Evolution, which Natural Selection would seem to infer. Yet, though these findings were certainly interesting, and correctly demand more than pure Natural Selection as the active processes involved, his extractions are, perhaps surprisingly, rewarded with the by now usual formal answers to all things inexplicable – Chaos!

Evidence of the impossibility of predicting (a key word in that view of Science) the future in Evolution, about which he is certainly correct, makes him proffer Non Linear Chaos as the engine for real, qualitative Change. He doesn’t deny the natural selection pressures on the phenotypes of individual organisms and hence on the genetic make up of those who will dominate the gene pool. But, he clearly promotes unpredictable changes as his primary factors in Evolution.

Now many would perhaps reply to such a position by saying that Random Mutations with totally unpredictable outcomes may be of themselves sufficient to deliver the same unpredictability. But, the irresistible momentum of current ideas on Chaos and Fractals at the present time seduces Bennett into making formal (mathematical) features as being those of central importance.
Now, the making of such choices are not unimportant. First, it does not remove Evolution from our usual ideas of determinism, it just makes the “disembodied drivers” non linear.

I’m afraid that is an easy get out!
Quoting the profound contributions of Stephen Jay Gould in Interrupted Evolution will not add credibility to Bennett’s thesis. Gould and others have stated that Evolution definitely occurs in rapid bursts, and not merely via the accumulation of small incremental changes until some threshold is passed, and a wholly new species is born.
Putting that down to Chaos is certainly not a progressive improvement, but a retrenchment compared with where Gould was heading.

It is, of course, the return to the ancient and ubiquitous, idealist strand in Science, which always wants to reveal “laws” – disembodied, formal relations, which “drive” Reality. The cosy home of Chaos and Fractals involves no new thinking at all! It is merely the latest answer to the ever-increasing evidence that a solely deterministic world is a simplifying myth. For, in this kind of mathematics, we have the marriage of formal deterministic equations (the absolutely essential ingredient in this kind of Science)) and unpredictability, which is increasingly evident in many aspects of Reality.

But Form is NOT Content!
It is only how we describe the patterns of things.
It is certainly NOT how we either understand or explain things.
I’m afraid this sound and indeed vital evidence is misunderstood, and matched to formal patterns in lieu of proper scientific explanations.

No, for all this evidence can indeed be accommodated, if we concede incremental change accumulation on a minor scale, but not leading to major redirections and true qualitative change. Indeed, what precipitates the latter is not progressive accumulation at all, but what Gould correctly saw as its very opposite. Major changes occur in relative rapid episodes termed Emergences, which are initially catastrophes for the prevailing status quo. They are the actual result of accumulation, but NOT of changes towards some “next stage”. They are the ever-present deleterious contributions, which have been recognised for very many years as the basis for the ubiquitous Second Law of Thermodynamics, which start by undermining the current stability, until they finally precipitate its wholesale dismantling. The New is NOT, as such, present within the content of the Old, “growing and ready to flower given a last push”. It is, on the contrary, wholly absent from any situation prior to an Emergence. The actual creation of the New can only occur in the aftermath of an avalanche of destructive change (like a Phoenix arising from the Flames), for such a cataclysm removes the processes, which ensured the stability of the prior Level.

All the evidence Bennett quotes is wholly consistent with such a trajectory of real qualitative change, To mix up micro (non revolutionary) changes with the real engine of Evolution is indeed a mistake, and to join the increasing chorus of applause for Chaos solves absolutely nothing.

Issue 14 of Shape

Issue 14 of the Shape Journal


In the mid 1980s I wrote an article entitled The Demise of Formalism. It was about Mathematics and the work of contributors like Gödel and Turing, who had proved that Hilbert’s conception of the nature of Mathematics was incorrect, and it was neither complete nor coherent, or even entirely consistent, as he had asserted.
But that was then!

The content at that time only addressed the discipline of Mathematics and nothing beyond that. After a further 25 years since then many new ideas have been developed, which take the area involved well beyond Mathematics alone, and well into Philosophy in general. The most obvious extensions were, as you might imagine, in the ideas involved in Formal Logic, and, of course, then into all disciplines which use Formal Logic as their “banker technique”.
Even further it had become more and more clear that the techniques involved had very limited areas of application, and in particular excluded all disciplines which involved significant Qualitative Change, and most especially in those interludes in development which were covered by the revolutionary Events termed Emergences. To be able to tackle THE most essential areas of Reality just had to involve these crucial Events, for otherwise they would only be addressing entities and relations embedded in totally stable periods.

Science would then be limited to the study of what was possible within Stability. Ideas such as the Origin of Life on Earth as well as its subsequent Evolution would be left out of the areas for study, and it soon became clear that the development of Planet Earth itself, not to mention the Cosmos, were also evolving systems and had to have their Emergences too.

Now these Events are remarkable interludes involved concentrated avalanches of Change, and each one, on completion produces its own entirely New Level, containing entirely new entities, properties, relations and indeed processes. To make matters worse, it had also become clear that the methods universally used in the Sciences up to now were totally inadequate to such cataclysms of Change within Emergences. Indeed, the nature of any Emergence could NOT be derived from knowledge of prior conditions, no matter how full they were.
Nothing could be predicted from before the crucial Event that would pertain after the Event!

Now though these features seemed to make this an impossible area to study, such Emergences had been identified as such in the past, and the touchstone and template for such Revolutions had to be the First Appearance of Life on Earth. In addition, once recognised and described, these Events seemed to be cropping up everywhere, from interludes within the development of the Cosmos, to the emergence of Human Consciousness in Man.

By October 2007, the research of this author had reached the stage where another, much wider Demise of Formalism was necessary, and this is it! But what is included here was by no means the last word in this area, which by October 2009 had resulted in the publication (in SHAPE on-line Journal) of The Theory of Emergences.
This paper can be seen as the immediate precursor to that Theory, and as such, several important differences will be evident between the two.

Jim Schofield September 2010

P.S. As this is a long paper, it will be published in instalments over a series of Issues of SHAPE.

23 September, 2010

New article on Philosophical Diagrams

The video below explains the diagram above


1.These are Philosophical Diagrams, developed by this author to aid in the communication of complex ideas, and because of this he is ideally placed to explain them.

2.They are not mere illustrations of ideas in an alternative form, but were designed as essential tools as part of a polemic against the current philosophical consensus in his area of study – Science.

3.Because they deal with Philosophy, it has been necessary to deliver, both in words and diagrams, means, which show relationships, and whereas the overwhelming tendency in this area has been to do this solely by means of Equations, a wider and better means was required.

4.The process commenced with attempts to deliver the Processes and Productions of Abstraction, and here the whole trajectory of that effort is delivered.

5.Crucially, such diagrams would have to deal with both the USE of abstractions, and their crucial role in EXPLANATION.

6.This had to be a new kind of diagram, and as this paper shows, went through a whole series of forms until an adequate solution was found. It had to include both Processes (usually as “arrowed lines”) and Products (presented as labelled circular areas)

7.The main aim of these diagrams was to identify the different processes & productions associated with Science, on the one hand, and Mathematics, on the other. It was clear from the outset that these were very different and definitely separate.

8.The basis of everything illustrated has to be Reality, as the source & confirmation of all the associated abstractions. From this starting point all conceptions had to flow and be validated by frequent returns to this primary source.

9.Categories such as Objective Relations, Models and Equations had to be related, as did processes such as The Scientific Method for confirmation, extension or rejection of the Models.

10.A clear split between Explanatory Models and purely Formal Models was evident, and the process had begun. But the first effort was clearly not good enough because it delivered only what was already known.

11.The next stage attempted to deal with repeated use of the abstraction processes, and how these allowed more general (on the one hand) and more universal (on the other) extractions from evidence in Reality. Interestingly, the term Coherence was shown to be different in Explanation from its role in universal Equations.

12.Further diagrams separated out the Scientific Method and the crucial process, which I have termed Mathematical Speculation, which centres most developments on Equations as source rather than Reality.

13.Finally, I present the culmination of these studies with a diagram in which the ground of everything – the background of the diagram, is Reality. And MAN is positioned at the centre as the source of all processes. Between that thinking initiator and Reality is a ring containing all Productions (abstractions), and between Man and these Productions via Reality are the actual Processes.

14.The success of these diagrams was not a formal solution to a problem of representation, but HOW the diagram can be used in tracing what people are doing with their thinking and arguments.

Read more

16 August, 2010

Review: The End of Incremental Evolution?

Accidental Origins (New Scientist 2751)

Yet another article has appeared but this time adding a rather different gloss to the usual consensus interpretation of Natural Selection, but instead of the usual cashing in on a world celebrated anniversary, this one does add something of real value.

In Accidental Origins published in a recent issue of New Scientist (2751), reporter Bob Holmes introduces us to Mark Pagel, who along with his colleagues, has uncovered a fatal flaw in the assumption of large numbers ofvery small, incremental steps which alone are supposed to deliver the crucial process of species change via Natural Selection. Though many others have questioned this tenet of Natural Selection, Pagel is different because he uses the same standpoint and methodology as his opponents to demolish their position. He uses a mathematical analysis of data derived from available evolutionary sequences to show that they could not have happened in the assumed way. But importantly, the significance of his results also, in fact, reaches well beyond Natural Selection to a whole range of “theories” based on the same sort of assumptions throughout present day Science, and so his contribution is significant for Science in general.

He reveals a significant hole in this form of explanation by showing that the concrete results do NOT have the actual “shape” that would be unavoidable from large numbers of small steps. Indeed, he goes on to demonstrate that the nearest idea that matches the analysis, is that species change is caused by a single accidental event rather than the assumed gradualist drift.

But, taking a step away from the individual problem Pagel addresses, we must more generally separate out quantitative derivation of formulae and its ability to accurately predict, from the usually following explanatory theory. Most scientists today feel that the initial stage is actually the “real nitty-gritty”, and the explanatory phase is merely some sort of rationalisation. Once a means of prediction is in their hands, the scientific process is presumed to be “complete”, and all sorts of questionable rationalisations are considered sufficient for the final “window-dressing”, explanatory phase. Returning to Pagel’s work, it is clear he has totally undermined this overall approach, at the same time as his contributions to Evolution, ALL other similar rationalisations in many other important areas of modern science must also be seen as subject to the same criticisms. The premise of vast interludes of time, and innumerable increments to totally alone produce ALL possible states can be demolished by such research as that delivered by Pagel. The flawed methodology is not a no-brainer, which everyone is bound to accept.

Indeed, many other scientists, including myself, have long disputed such forms of “explanation”, but our position has not been accepted as most cases were always completely beyond either experimental demolition or confirmation. Pagel’s method changes this seemingly permanent impasse, and such assumptions can be tested with certainty. Consider all the accepted methods, particularly in computer simulations, where, based upon “placeholder” theories, of the kind demolished here, involve similar thresholds, beyond which it is assumed that a new situation has been established (by incremental changes?), and new formulae can be employed. Such methods are now clearly revealed as cases with sufficient evidence for reliable data, yet having NO real Theory, and which therefore require invented, incremental-type placeholders which cannot be validated in the usual ways.

Mark Pagel (University of Reading) attempted to “quantify” species change by considering the effects of both random, incremental events and the time-gaps between adjacent species in an evident evolutionary sequence, BUT he came up with the result that the usual assumptions were inconsistent with the investigated data, and in considering a whole range of alternatives, the one that stood out as vastly more in tune with the data, was that only the emergence of a new species by a Single Accidental Event would do.

Now, as a scientist who cringes at the usual purely mathematical foundations for “theories” in much of modern science, I was primed to disagree with Pagel. But I was mistaken. He was using the science of Pure Form (Mathematics) as it should be used – to assess the formal implications of a methodology. His conclusions are formally unassailable!

But nevertheless, for my kind of Science, his revelations are only the beginning of absolutely necessary consequent scientific investigations.

NOTE: The criticised basic assumptions seem to be:-

1. That totally random and undirected accidents occur over vast periods of time, from which Natural Selection picks out only the most advantageous for continued survival.

2. And, that such increments can then gradually build up until a threshold is reached, beyondwhich a wholly new species (NOT a mere race or breed) is created.

The expression, “You cannot see the Wood for the Trees!” comes immediately to mind. A single isolated tree in an open space is a very different thing to one existing in established and continuing Woodland. The latter is part of a system working at a different level from the single tree. Component individual trees are different by being surrounded by other trees. In established Woodland, the growth patterns are very different, and the Wood affords a measure of protection too, while the involved ecological system is much richer there, so that all sorts of symbiotic and parasitic and even inter-species advantages can establish themselves. The question has to be asked, “Could the system of the Wood be determined solely by knowing about the properties of an individual, solitary tree?”And, of course, the same must also be true for other species of organisms. We cannot reduce their development and crucial change to incremental and undirected accident over vast periods of time.

Pagel’s work demolishes the usual placeholders, but the actual causal features of species-change are still requiring answers, which will NOT be solely formal, but will tackle exactly how such changes can occur; what is the biological content of species change? What significant qualitative events can deliver such innovation?

Now, to address this question, we must start by admitting that step-by-step selection does indeed take place, and can transform a species into a different Form – but that does NOT mean a switch to a different species: a Great Dane and a Chihuahua are still both just Dogs! The mechanism explains breeds but NOT speciation!

Something else must happen to result in what we correctly term a New Species: something which is NOT gradual and incremental, but immediate, qualitative & significant!

Now Pagel et al draw the conclusion that a single accidental event must be the cause, but that merely precipitates even bigger questions. What sort of single change could produce a new species at a single stroke? It must, surely, be impossible when seen as a single accidental mutation! We must replace both Pagel’s and the usual interpretation of such an “event” with something of an entirely different order.The Change must be brought about by a short but “revolutionary” Event, and such, of course, do indeed exist, and we have come to call them Emergences.

These cannot ONLY involve a single piece of genetic damage, which, by pure chance, causes sufficient changes to produce a wholly new and viable species. It must be some sort of general “system” change in which, in a relatively short period of time, via both avalanches of dissociation and swift erections of “the new”, produce, over a series of contained, see-sawing crises, a new synthesis, which is both viable and persists!

Now, such Events are not unknown! The greatest example of such occurrences must include the very first Star, then, much later, the Origin of Life itself, not to mention subsequent significant revolutions, such as those involving the birth of Consciousness, and that of Thinking too. Finally, such processes must even apply to Social Revolutions.

But such are not usually seriously addressed in academic circles. They are considered to be too much driven by ideological assumptions and indeed are often entirely discounted. But their reality is unanswerable by such purely prejudicial reasons for dismissal. The absolutely Key example of such a kind of revolutionary Event must be the Origin of Life on Earth from purely inanimate matter. And no-one could possibly put that down to a single accidental event, could they?

To respond to Pagel et al’s criticisms can only be addressed by a serious, scientific study of Emergences – the crucial, and indeed only, single events of qualitative change. Now, though these have NOT been pursued scientifically to any great degree to date, they have been available throughout history via fragmentary observations, artistic creations and persisting myths.

Around 2,500 years ago, two opposing, world-view conceptions were outlined almost simultaneously. These were Plurality and Holism.The former, concerned with seeing everything in terms of Wholes and their constituent Parts, was established in Ancient Greece, while the latter was formulated as a world view and guide to living for human beings by the Buddha – as “everything affects everything else” and “all is change” Nothing persists!” Thereafter, throughout the intervening period right up to the present day, many holistic gems were uncovered and delivered in sayings, stories, and many works of art, but it was not until Hegel (around 1800) that an attempt was made to formulise the study of Qualitative Change via his attempt to construct a “logic” of Change with his book The Science of Logic.

His main disciples, the Young Hegelians dramatically switched sides, not only abandoning Idealism for Materialism, but also by concentrating to a great extent on Social Change as their main purpose. Marx and his followers could not be stomached by the conservative occupiers of High Academia, and any serious research into Emergences and Qualitative Change was effectively deemed insupportable.

But, the wheel has turned full circle since that time, and Science is now constantly coming up against the contradictions inevitable from maintaining an entirely pluralist standpoint in a clearly holistic World. [The most significant and ever continuing crisis debilitating Modern Sub Atomic Physics is perhaps the clearest example, but many other cases with the same causes abound in many diverse areas of study].

Even from the very heart of Academia, scientists such as Murray Gell-Man have proposed the task of addressing Emergences, and the famed Santa Fe Institute was established with that as its main purpose. But, even the giants involved there could not negate what they and their predecessors had constructed over the last century, and their unbreakable marriage to Plurality has made any real progress impossible, and the purpose of the Institute has now shrunk into investigating yet another branch of Mathematics ONLY! Such philosophically unsound bases, and purely maths-led “theorising” is incapable of addressing this crucial area, and the contributions from Santa Fe have been decidedly poor.

AS scientific method and explanation is increasingly replaced by pure Form equations, applicable only in pluralist-demanded Domains, these researchers find themselves incapable of transcending the contradictions they encounter on all sides, such that they are now major “tenets” for their position and are “worn as badges of honour and superiority over the rest of uncomprehending humanity. So, like Pagel, they find flaws, but can only replace them with other flaws, dictated by their increasingly redundant methodologies and world views.

The errors, though, frequently switch to the opposite end of the spectrum and the “containing Wood” may well be recognised, but only as a summation of isolated trees producing overall and average collective features with matching probabilities. Instead of real understanding and explanation, almost arbitrary quantifiable features are monitored for a dependable, recurring Value (at Transition), so that when it is surpassed, new laws are brought into play to replace those possible before the threshold. Clearly the passing of the value at the threshold does NOT cause the change over, but is merely yet another symptom of the process which really does bring about the changes. AND these are not a simple switch but a kind of system revolution, involving significant dissociations and re-associations – more of an Emergence indeed, than a single accidental event.

No real answers will be produced without a major renovation of the by-now ubiquitous pluralist and maths-led methodology, and the general acceptance of such apposition is clearly proved by the very language of almost all scientists. They talk of natural laws determining the nature and evolution of Reality, which is clearly an abandonment of Materialism. How can a disembodied formalism produce and then drive Reality? That is naked Idealism! Laws are produced BY Reality, which changes and evolves, so that new laws appear at each new emerging Level. The revolution of the Origin of Life on Earth generated via concrete Reality, a whole new world of laws – subsequently gathered together by Mankind as Biology! Were there any eternal biological laws “before Life”? Of course there wasn’t!

Now, this short paper is not mere kite-flying. The author – a physicist/mathematician, philosopher and teacher of 50 years experience, has been writing on these very matters for over 10 years and has, in the last 12months, described his conception of the Inner Trajectory of an Emergence, as the first step to a world-wide investigation into scientific method and the necessary formulation of an holistic alternative. Such a purpose has already produced a reformulation of Miller’s brilliant and holistic experiment into the Origin of Life. And this would itself begin to define a whole new approach to such questions, and lay the foundations for a Holistic Sc


Today we post our first review on the Shape Blog. I have been feverishly and regularly writing such responses to published materials for some time (mostly of articles in New Scientist Magazine), but what with the short time between consecutive issues of that publication (it's a weekly) and my own experience in writing to such tight schedules that have been the unavoidable case, that in spite of the quality being finally acceptable for publication, the "currency" has slipped much too much. By the time they were finished they were invariably too late to inform possible readers of the original stimuli for these responses.

But clearly until I can produce these reviews in good time and while the source is still "fresh", the increasing pile of offerings has remained in my out tray (but never left it).

It is clear that this apparent waste cannot be allowed to continue, so we are now going to publish most of our reviews even if they are a bit late to be current with the latest issue of New Scientist. And, on thinking about it, they will still be relevant to the issues which have dominated Science News and Comment for very extended periods. In fact some crucial arguments have been going on for many years.

Certainly, this first review will not be rendered passe by unavoidable delays. Pagel's contribution (revealed in yet another New Scientist article and addressed in our first review) has turned out to be an extremely significant contribution to criticising many of our basic assumptions with regards to Evolution. In fact at least four successive papers have already been produced by this author and Pagel's work is definitely undermining many sacred cows in this important area of study.

The paper I have decided to publish here as Review No. 1 is entitled The End of Incrementalist Evolution and it hopefully will get our readers thinking and perhaps get the relevant materials for themselves.

NB: The Special Issue of the Shape Journal on Emergences in Evolution is now at an advanced stage of preparation, and is likely to be the next one published. And in this proposed publication the relevance of Pagel's important contribution will be revealed in full along with a whole series of other related contributions from current publications.

11 August, 2010

Issue 12 of Shape

I will be posting some diagrams on Fuzzy Logic and Dichotomous trees in the next few days, for those interested in the paper on gleaning Coherence from Incomplete Sequences.

Akhenaten Design

26 July, 2010

The Holism Debate

Four philosophers Tom, Dick, Harry & Bill are in their cups, but instead of going out and painting the town red, they gather closer together in the quietest corner of the pub, and argue about their shared conundrum – What is Holism?
How do they deal coherently with such a self-modifying Reality?

These four contributions are in the order in which they were delivered, each correcting or extending its predecessor, or drawing in evidence or metaphors from their own experiences of Reality. What do YOU think of their conclusions?

1. TOM: The Ascent of Predictive Processes

Our highly commendable efforts to understand Reality nevertheless bear the stamp of our own current stage of development. To jump straight to a full and coherent conception of Everything was, and still is, totally impossible, and, in addition, each stage in the process will be unavoidably limited by our own current capabilities, knowledge and understanding. Indeed, whatever we extract will never be incremental steps in a direct upwards ascent.
All gains will be conditional, simplified, and even rationalised, in our attempt to reveal what we see as the essential driving elements our “conceived of” clearly meaningful World.
And this conditional process is always more of a large-swing zigzag than a ladder, and our greatest difficulties are often involved in shedding our most dearly-held assumptions and principles, which have indubitably been the foundations of our previous gains, rather than the inherent problems of the actual nature of Reality itself.

Nevertheless, progress is definitely made – NOT by descrete morsels of Absolute Truth, but on the contrary, by a series of constructs (didactic models), which contain objective content.

Now the meaning of this described process of development becomes crucial!
Objective Content is NOT the Truth, but it embodies aspects or views of parts of the Truth, in given circumstances, and it is useable! That made each of these, and still does, a considerable gain. But it doesn’t, of itself and necessarily, take us directly forwards towards a fuller understanding. And this is because its main purpose is often and primarily for Prediction.

To be in a position to accurately predict what will happen next, endows the successful predictor with considerable power. With such dependable predictions, plans can be made and instituted. Mankind can begin to control aspects of his World to his evident benefit!

But accurate prediction is not necessarily predicated on real understanding, but on the extraction of dependable Form or Patterns.
For, if such patterns could be reliably revealed, the future could be predicted by a simple forwards extension of the pattern.
The trouble was, and still is, that the World is not wholly or even separable deterministic – always following rigidly pre-ordained patterns to completely predictable outcomes.
Occasionally, such conditions can exist, but they are rarely dependable, and a good dollop of hope, ritual and “added magic” was always considered an essential ingredient in any attempts to predict such outcomes.
Yet such rituals and “added substances” could (though rarely) actually help, and well-defined processes, with “important” substances present were established and retained in that using group’s culture. It was still hocus-pocus, but it could, and sometimes did, contain a sliver of Objective Content, and, the process could be more successful than most such “magic”

The outcome of such methods was that Mankind began to identify necessary substances and even began to add features such as Fire or Water, and occasionally a well-defined, controlled and maintained process would actually begin to deliver the predicted results quite reliably.

The crucial feature in such processes was that a Part of Reality was isolated and maintained as such, and subjected to controlled processes within those steadfastly maintained conditions.
Mankind achieved a measure of predictive success by imposing Plurality upon a given situation.

What is meant here by Plurality is the conception that each and every Whole is composed of separable constituent Parts, and although this was only rarely true in unfettered Reality, it could be made to be the case in limited and controllable localities. Yet the requirements for such impositions upon sections of Reality were initially prodigious in the light of Man’s own current powers and knowledge.
To even start, such methods required a great deal of reliable knowledge, which itself was difficult to come by.
A chicken-and-Egg situation meant that early real gains were dead slow!

But, Mankind did, by partial truth upon partial truth, begin to gather more and more objective content, which in turn empowered him to successfully control situations to he required degree.

Ultimately, there was an ever widening area of situations in which he could impose a strict Plurality upon them, and hence, by holding most things constant and varying only a handful of factors were indeed in a position to both extract and predict!

This was successively refined into what came to be called scientific methodology, and fostered the great developments in the production of required implements, tools and weapons which became Technology.
But it was deterministic and mechanistic in the main, and was therefore NOT applicable in the bulk of questions which Mankind had to constantly address.
It became an aberrant (though very useful) growth in a particular direction, and engendered a general attitude to all endeavours, which was, all too often, entirely inappropriate!
But you can direct your own paths of development.
They may be inadequate, but if they do contain that vital objective content, then you must pursue them, though the more general outcomes will only be “as predicted” in very limited, mechanistic areas, and everywhere else they could produce, and often were, dire results.

2. DICK: How a Holistic World Suggested Plurality

Now in the previous contribution (The Ascent of Prediction), the development of Technology has been outlined, but such an approach to Reality is by no means the only one, or even the most important one, and the reason is that it is wholly predicated upon Plurality, and the World is simply NOT pluralistic.

Yet as with all such characterisations by Mankind, BOTH of our versions of the two categories Plurality and Holism are clearly mistaken oversimplifications, and in spite of their many strengths and successes, can, and in the end always do, mislead us to a remarkable extent.
For example Holism, in its crudest form, insists that absolutely everything affects everything else. All is subject to constant change – absolutely nothing is constant!

Now, if that were “all that there is to it” concerning Reality, we would not get very far it attempting to understand it.
Nothing would be extractable as separable and independent entities or relations, and every attempt at prediction based on some isolated segment of Reality would inevitably fail.
So, such a basic holistic approach inevitably disables our chances of getting to grips with Reality, and ever actually controlling it to direct it to required ends.
It that simplified form Holism becomes a merely passive philosophy, which observes Reality-as-is as it remorselessly pursues its own paths of interaction and change. We cannot intervene! We merely notice its cycles which are regularly repeated, and the trajectories of Life and Death, but we can only sit and contemplate. [Some wags actually say that such a position accurately defines all Philosophy, but that isn’t true!]

And, of course, that version of Holism doesn’t pertain anywhere: it is our own simplification of what does exist in unfettered Reality, but it is a fiction.
That basic view delivers such a complex, multiply-interacting mix, that the result is close to chaos, and totally random and unpredictable in particulars.
Evidently, such a definition is not only useless; it is significantly false as well.

For, in the midst of chaos, we do indeed have Order. Things may well be in constant change, but most such changes are NOT immediately significant, and the entire multiple and contrasting processes are not necessarily either equal in weight or entirely contending. For, if they were we would indeed have ONLY a totally random and chaotic World.
No forms would be evident, and everything would be the same everywhere.

Now, that is clearly NOT the case.
And the ground for the many subscribers to Plurality was that many, many things did indeed persist as the same Form for sometimes considerable periods. Indeed, the belief that all species were permanently constant and unchanging, and had been so ever since God had created them was almost universally believed. And even individual living things, once they had matured into adulthood, tended to remain in that state for long periods of time.

Without any doubt, our real, holistic World could, and did, beget episodes of Stability, wherein certain things persisted as constant – at least for a time.
Now, in all this there is an inherent contradiction!
Either there are NO purposive processes maintaining constant things, or there are ONLY such processes!
Stability implies the presence of such processes and seems to confirm Plurality, whereas constant change and quite evident dissolution and indeed Death, implies contending processes as in a holistic World.

The pluralists among us concentrate upon the essential laws, which “produce” everything in Reality and never themselves change.
While the holists concentrate upon an “infinite” number of contending processes, making nothing eternal and all involved in a constant process of change.

As inferred earlier, BOTH these are incorrect!
But just denouncing the contending alternatives has to be insufficient! We must characterise Reality as it actually is, and that must include both periods of Stability, and periods of dissolution and significant change. And, once again, these are not merely present together,
Indeed, they are interludes in an overall process of change.
There are dissolutory factors constantly attacking any stability, while there are also other factors which tend to erect stable situations, and the remarkable thing is that they “alternate” in dominance, and neither permanently dominate the world.

To make matters even more difficult for Mankind’s purpose of understanding these things, the situations do not just alternate like a permanent oscillation. Indeed, the overall process is one of discernable development – indeed, of Evolution.
Reality is NOT a fixed entity. It is regularly producing the entirely NEW, and creating new and higher stabilities, which themselves never permanently persist. But neither do they merely dissociate into “lesser” noise and chaos (as, it must be pointed out, it is inferred in the Second Law of Thermodynamics - a pluralist belief!), but resolves each cataclysm of dissociation into a new and higher stability.

For Mankind to cope with Reality-as-is, he must make the study of Emergent Change his most important task, for without it, he too will ricochet from one illusion to the next without really understanding what is happening.

3. HARRY: An Evolutionary Conception of Reality

Now, from the two contributions so far, it must be clear that, as usual, it is our conceptions of the inherent Nature of Reality which most often leads us astray. In addition, we have a very mistaken idea of what Truth is, and this has similar deleterious effects.
Reality is neither wholly determined by eternal laws, nor is it constantly deteriorating into ever more total chaos.
On the contrary, it regularly produces Stable Situations, which persist, but which also, in time, will just as inevitably destroy. Reality has a definite propensity for stability, but only produces stable situations which are inevitably undermined and superceded. And that process of Major Qualitative Change has dissolution at its very heart.
The myth of the Phoenix arising from the flames has a real basis in developing Reality!
The Possibility Space of Reality is regularly extended, yet none of these extensions are final and perfect. They can, and always will be, overturned by degeneration and replaced by the wholly new.

Those who support such a conception of Reality consider that the main study must be the trajectory of such changes, including the erection of the new stabilities, their undermining and dissolution, and the subsequent creation of an entirely new Level of stability ON TOP.

Now, this area is complicated not only by the richness of each new Level, but by the (perhaps) surprising continuance of the older Levels too.
The New Levels only replace the Old locally, and indeed, depend upon selected subsets of the older processes internally. So though locally the process is one of dissolution, replacement and selection, that is not the case outwith the aegis of the new Level – i.e. over the rest of Reality.
The various Levels co-exist, but are mutually affected to some degree!

Perhaps my favourite analogy of such a Universe-wide process is delivered by the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter.

The visible (top) of that atmosphere appears to be split into bands (by latitude). There are clear divisions and different movements, speeds, and even directions of cloud movements.
Yet at persisting points, great, stable “storms” occur, and indeed persist for centuries. Clearly the Form of the Great Red Spot is not unlike a hurricane on Earth in the spiralling rotation of the gases involved. But whereas the earthbound storms are always very temporary, the Spot on Jupiter appears semi-permanent – stable?
Around it the other layers continue their dominant movements, but with the regular generation of “eddies” as in an earth-bound stream. Similar things appear within the boundaries of the many layers, and particularly around the boundary of the Great Red Spot.

Clearly, there are important resonances between the general idea of Qualitative Change with Stabilities, and the phenomena on Jupiter.

4. BILL: The Jovian Exemplar

Now, though extremely valuable, it is clear that the inclusion of the image of the atmosphere of Jupiter in the last contribution needs a further explanation, if it is to really deepen our idea of a holistic Universe and its inevitable trajectory of interludes of Stability and Change.
Look closely at this photograph of a section of the atmosphere of Jupiter.

To really grasp the significance, you would ideally have to see it as a long, time-lapse sequence of images over quite long individual intervals of time. For such a sequence, speeded-up to reveal the vast and complex movements involved would greatly amplify what is contained in this breath-taking exemplar of Constant Change.
For though some features persist (indeed the Great Red Spot has been around for hundreds of years), everything else displays a veritable cauldron of constant and unpredictable motions.
The various lateral bands move at quite different speeds and even in opposite directions, and we are constantly presented with stable processes, limited in extent, and everywhere we have active curlicued boundaries between them.
Sub spots peel off the boundary of the Great Red Spot, and persist for a while, and elaborate and turbulent eddies are created everywhere,
Now, we can be, and usually are, transfixed by these phenomena, and imagine that, like the atmosphere of Earth, we could with sufficient data, construct a simulation of the overall process with multiple laws (each (of course) accompanied by its failure thresholds – where it must be replaced by another more appropriate one. And because of recent mathematical researches into “Chaos”, we would undoubtedly bring in that determinism too. Indeed, the very fact that a deterministic equation could produce such seemingly unpredictable stuff would convince us that our earth-bound methods would indeed cope even there, and we would again MISS what Jupiter really has to teach us. For though over our life-length imposed periods, we see Jupiter as in turmoil, but basically the “same”, there can be NO DOUBT that over vast periods of time it has changed to a colossal extent, AND passed through many different “temporary” stable states.
So the suggested movie of the Jovian atmosphere is only an analogy or exemplar for Change in all things, it does not deliver a complete metaphor. The crucial lesson must be about Stability and its overthrow even in limited systems such as this.
In what appears as a prime situation for total chaos, we also have stability and BOTH occur within an overall and continuing process. The activities at the boundaries are vitally important because, though within a stable structure like the Great Red Spot, we have persisting Patterns and Cycles, at the margins we have almost infinite variety AND access to substances from other stable structures elsewhere.
[I am also moved to suggest the paintings of Mark Rothko as delivering similar activities at the boundaries of his wonderful “areas”, though he is concerned with US (Mankind) directly, and not the Universe in general]
It is in those boundary regions where any transport and juxtaposition of materials occurs and guarantees maximum possibilities. Within the major stabilities the opposite is surely true.

So, look again, and imagine the described movies.
You are looking at really existing Holism!
You have Stability within chaos and constant changes. Does not the confidence of our programmed simulations seem more than a little blinkered?

03 July, 2010

Coherence from Incomplete Sequences: Introduction

This short paper will appear in Issue 12 of Shape Journal. It is only part of the topic of "informed speculation", which is a vital component of all scientific hypotheses, and of theorising in relatively new areas of study. It is not usually at all pluralistic, but takes reality as it is, and constructs reasonable and well informed explanations where they are sorely needed. The reason for the limited nature of the coming paper is that the more obvious elements involved are already well-covered by many previous papers.

The crucial feature of the relationship of Relative and Absolute Truth, is always treated early on in criticising any demand for Absolute Proof, beloved of all mathematicians, which is only very rarely possible in concrete Reality, so that a "lesser" demand for objective content is the proper aim of all Science. But, we must use Logic where it can be useful. Not in the Absolute Truth sense, but in the elimination of the impossible, and very unlikely scenarios to reveal the most reliable extractions and conclusions.

The paper addresses a couple of ways in which partial evidence can, none-the-less be sufficient, and how ever-available loops of correlation can home us in ever closer to the truth we seek.

Issue 12 will be published in 3 weeks time...

Issue 11 of Shape

15 June, 2010

The Theory of Emergence - Coming Soon!

What is an Emergence? It is a special interlude of major qualitative change, in which a new level of reality is both generated and maintained. Such a Level is not a mere re-organisation, but involves wholly new entities, properties, relations and even Laws which did not exist previously. The template for such an Emergence has to be the Origin of Life on Earth. Only after the creation of the first living things did they inhabit a new Level of Reality, with its own laws. We call this collection of laws Biology, and institute a whole new science with its own scientists. But this, though without doubt the most important Emergence was certainly not the only one. Every science has had its own birth via an Emergence, and indeed from the Big Bang onwards all significant qualitative changes were created within Emergences, as have been all since that event.

As so many of my philosophical ideas revolve around this theory of Emergence, we have decided to publish a special issue of the Shape Journal, dedicated to its explanation and exploration. Watch this space...

Building A Consensus

Nice diagram from New Scientist, but I think it communicates more than the original authors intended. It demonstrates how the consensus in a particular research area is established and maintained. I'm currently writing a paper on this subject, and will post it as soon as it is ready...

25 May, 2010

Paths to Chaos or Paths to Glory: Introduction

What is the natural trajectory of change in Reality? Do we, in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, consider it to be a constant downhill descent into oblivion, or is it "built-in" that it should naturally evolve into ever-more potential-filled and richer forms? Now, for highly constrained subsets of reality, the answer is clear. They will indeed, if left to themselves, deteriorate into chaos. But what of unfettered reality as a whole, with no imposed constraints and added purposes, what will be the natural outcome there? The evidence is all around us. It will evolve!

But why does this remarkable second case happen? What is the engine of such developments, and what determines the trajectory of that process?

In order to address these questions this paper attempts to address reality as it is, without Mankind! But to do so, we must bury our usual methodology, which sees every discovery in terms of how we can exploit it for our own ends. We must instead become observers and interpreters, and never users. We must develop what we are clearly already aware of, but rarely pursue - disinterested Science.

The evidence for the evolution of Reality is undoubtedly legion, but as to what factors drive this development, we do not know. The tempo of such changes when measured with our 'clocks' seems to be zero - that reality is entirely stationary and unchanging.

Now a single tiny and isolated particle of Matter in a completely empty space cannot display, or even have, any properties at all. We have to realise that such things can only appear in aggregates. It is only when many such fragments come together that we not only get bigger pieces, but also qualities begin to be evident: the fragments relate to one another. And these qualities will be different at every stage of the enlarging aggregate. They will not only change in magnitude, but also in properties. Initially, then the property of Gravity - the mutual attraction of particles of Matter for each other, must be the initial drive. But notice, we could extrapolate all the way from the very first tiny aggregations seamlessly to a single all-consuming Black Hole into which the whole Universe could be unremittingly drawn, to vanish completely back up its own Physical Singularity! That is the simplest extrapolation of Gravity. But, of course, we know better. Vast aggregations collapse Matter into ever closer forms, until in the largest aggregations they burst into stars. Millennia of studying the Heavens have revealed a whole series of different forms of stars which clearly form a sequence of phases, and even include cataclysms such as Supernovae.

Clearly, apart from the observable evidence in the sky, there is a more complex and detailed trajectory involving many other modes or phases. And what is crucial about these phases is that they change the game. These natural developments transform their own producing ground every single time! So how do such a variety of very different and indeed new forms get driven into existence merely by Gravity?

Now, one aspect of the forms involved is also crucial. There seems to be an alternation between long periods of relatively slow-moving stability, and very short interludes of radical change. Such a trajectory implies that other forces are also being generated, and grow to such a point that they always undermine, and then overthrow, the current stability, only to, at a later time, surrender to their own, different, stability-enforcing system, thus moving into a new period of stability.

If we had a mechanist, purely bottom-up Universe, such things could never happen! This evidence seems to suggest that Reality is NOT pluralistic (the bottom-up approach), but is, on the contrary, entirely holistic, involving causalities in all directions. This means that the possibilities are increased, because the ground is always changed by its own products. As soon as a product (such as free Oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere) is produced in sufficient quantities, it changes future possibilities into features that were impossible previously.

Elements of such a view are already occurring in our thinking about the world, but they are swamped by the stamp of our own purposes for USE!

This series will continue in Issue 11 of the Shape Journal. Watch this space.

Issue 10 of Shape

Issue 10 of Shape
Read it here

05 May, 2010

Order Out of Chaos Introduction

This forthcoming series of papers (Issue 10) under the general title of Order Out of Chaos? were commenced in 2008, and bear the stamp of when they were written. They do not represent the developed, current position of the author, but nevertheless, it was decided that they must be included in the journal as a necessary preparation for the continuous stream of rapidly developing contributions that have been produced ever since. Also, it is very clear to me that this is perhaps the most important area in modern science, and will not be delivered by a single theorist, and I'm keen to see other contributions in this area.

Firstly, the erroneous claims of the mathematicians of Chaos that their new area will ultimately contain the explanations for crucial Emergences such as that of the Origin of Life on Earth, must be debunked. Formal Mathematics cannot explain anything: it merely describes, never explains, and hence can never address such an important question. Secondly, these studies must actually investigate what really happens within such events as Emergences - NOT as mathematical forms only, but as Real Science. Since when did we credit our tools with creating the masterpieces by themselves!

The question, which has motivated this author for over 15 years, is considered to be by far the most important one in Science, which is now regularly coming up against the consequences of its own basic assumptions, tenets and even "beliefs". The chaos that is today's sub-Atomic Physics, is finally heading for its ultimate demise at its own hand. The "final proofs" of its current theories expected from the experiments on the Large Hadron Collider, will not be forthcoming. Indeed, by far the most likely outcome from this mammoth experiment will be an evident failure in this regard, causing a general flight from maintaining any trust in these odd believers in Parallel Universes, Physical Singularities, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, time flowing backwards, and even colliding Branes producing our Universe out of precisely Nothing. They will finally, and justifiably, be laughed out of Court.

It was decided, therefore, to include these older papers as an introduction to the studies into Emergence by this author. For though this is an important area, it is very little supported within current research, outside of the denizens of the Santa Fe Institute, who think that Mathematical Chaos will alone provide all the answers necessary. There appear to be very few who agree with this author. Nevertheless, the line of research that will appear ONLY in the Shape Journal, has recently arrived at a new Theory of Emergences, which for the first time goes into the various phases of such an event. At the same time, such vital research cannot be a one-man show, and even hostile criticism will help refine these new ideas. Of course, even better would be the contributions of other like-minded experts, who are not merely mathematical physicists, but true explanatory scientists, who also realise that the study of Emergences is the crucial area in the absolutely imperative re-establishment of Real Science as the only sound path towards Truth.

Don't miss Issue 10 of the Shape Journal to read the first instalment of this paper.

Chinese Stamps for Sale

Not sure if any of my regular readers will be interested, but thought I'd mention it anyway!
I'm currently trying to sell my large collection of Chinese Stamps

Visit www.chinese-stamps.com to find out more

15 April, 2010

The Heroic Failure of Mark Rothko

 "...No figurative content is either discerned, or was intended, and though most people “see” windows and doors to somewhere (?) or even nowhere, the real content seems to reside in amazing texture and meaningful “detail”. The substance of the works seems to reside in the almost furry or “blurred” edges of his deceptively simple areas, which seem to articulate directly and sensitively into adjacent “new space”, which is itself packed full of its own colour-based activity.
We seem to be directly discerning real and complex feelings by abstract visual means alone..."

29 March, 2010

A Three Dimensional Problem

Introducing the Soma Strand

These images are from a paper forthcoming to the Shape journal, as part of the "A Structure of Diagrams" series. Here diagrams and models were used to solve a complex three dimensional problem based on tessellation.

This case was to do with a self designed form which I had named the Soma Strand (after Piet Hein’s “Soma delicious Soma”).
Long before the tessellation problem outlined above, I had to design the original form. This, in itself, took a great deal of time and model making, but what finally emerged was an infinite strand, with a re-entrant form, and congruent, singly re-entrant hexagonal faces (with 90o and 270o angles only). It soon became clear (after making a bundle of these strands, that they definitely tessellated to fill three dimensional space completely.
Careful model-making had established this exciting property, but, it must be said that cardboard, glue and bits of wooden dowling (without which the strands were impossible to construct) are not the ideal materials to facilitate detailed studies in the area of volume filling stacking, particularly of such difficult (and indeed infinite) strands. Attempts at solving the problem using 3D graphics packages were soon abandoned, as these so-called tools, may deal with three dimensions, but are generally NOT designed for meaningful and revealing visualisations essential to the designer and creator of new things. You just couldn’t see what you were doing, and the figures soon became unintelligible. In addition to the complexity, that package had not helped me to adjust units effectively and lock them into the required precise positionings. Attempts at colouring to get some order out of the chaos only led to an obscuring of one part of the figure by another. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but those facilities were simply not available.
As a last resort, I went all the way back to an ancient (and primitive) 2D drawing package that I had used for many years (De Luxe Paint 2).

03 March, 2010

Domains & Quilts

An early investigation of Man's Abstraction of Reality. See my final definitive Abstraction Diagram

The Superstructure and the Base

This philosophical area is a profoundly difficult, yet at the same time, an extremely crucial one.
It cannot be dealt with by a single paper, or even a series of them. It is about our fundamental assumptions concerning the World about us and our understanding of it. It inevitably therefore will display the unavoidable errors that will occur when one part of Reality (Mankind) attempts to explain either that all-embracing World, their own automatic origin, or finally their current place within that World. Clearly, no straight (or Royal) road to Knowledge can be viewable, or even available from within the continuing process itself. Indeed, Man has to promote himself outside of the process in the position of a God, in his attempts to address it. There is no way that the bulk of his attempts will be anything other than fictions and rationalisations. And from the exact same ground, any condemnations of Mankind’s errors in this area will involve a similarly arrogant super-promotion.
Such a trajectory was, and still is, unavoidable, and every gain made in this gigantic task will, of course, be partial and propped up with many formal inventions. How could it be otherwise?

But, that does not mean that Mankind should, “Give up now, you’ll never do it!”
On the contrary, it is the most important purpose ever generated by this evolving World.
So, any paper commencing the task of looking at our assumptions and methods will have to start somewhere, and wherever we choose will immediately and inevitable reveal contradictions. But, that is still the only way we can remedy our misconceptions and improve our attempts. What else can we do?

This author commenced writing about such questions some 14 years ago, under the title, Levels, and it is clear that the currently existing Universe is NOT a single monolithic structure. Not only is it spatially divided, but it has also generated a whole series of Levels of Existence, each with its own entities, properties, relations and even laws.
Life is just such a Level, as is Consciousness, and the real task will have to be addressing these innovatory changes of Level, as well as explaining the more mundane relations within particular Levels.

Nevertheless, we must make a start, and perhaps the best issue, which cannot but expose the essentials of such a World, must be that of The Superstructure and The Base. The main criticism of Marxism by its conservative opponents was that they could not even explain their own existence, never mind that of the rest of Reality.
So we will start there!

In this current period SHAPE is involved in publishing a series of papers addressing these and related issues. They include:-

The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Formalising the Heavens
Truly Natural Selection
The Superstructure and the Base
Order Out of Chaos
Paths to Chaos or Paths to Glory?

These papers were either purposely selected, or specially written, for this period in the establishment of SHAPE as a new kind of Journal.
It will NOT be re-hashing old ideas, but on the contrary making original contributions on all the questions that it addresses. It will, therefore, seek to represent the cutting edge of research, and though most of the early contributions will be from the pen of Jim Schofield, the whole idea is to generate a whole school of contributors keen to tackle these crucial questions.
Instead of playing the role of a conduit for the publishing of all and any papers on these issues, it is intended to deliver coherent, comprehensive and new contributions to a 21st century view of the World!