26 September, 2016

Is Reason Merely Formal Logic (Part 4)

Vahram Again - Ghost City series

The Crucial Role of Stability

So, where does this leave us? I am sure that we must include, along with these episodic Events of dramatic Change, their very opposite – the periods of Stability that occur in between! 

To begin to explain both of these could possibly reveal some sort of structure, and be wholly determined by Reality itself, and not a restricting man-devised pluralist programme.

The development of Reality is not one of “constant revolutions”, even though it is one of “permanent change”.

The difference is that the major Qualitative Changes only actually occur in Emergences, and are clearly episodic, while the incremental changes are very different – amounting only to “change within Stability”, where it is mostly easily accommodated within the current stability without ever threatening its overthrow.

The transition which can occur, however, is that from a "simmering stability” to a “boiling Emergence”, and clearly it is within this “change-over” that we will find what we seek!

Indeed, the more such events are studied (read Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution), it soon becomes clear that Holism and ONLY Holism can cope with such Changes. From the pre-Emergence build-up, through the revolutionary overthrow, to the establishment of a new stability, at a wholly new and higher Level, the factors are changing constantly. What is vital in one phase can vanish from the next.

NO immutables are available throughout, nor can they be engineered by Control. An avalanche-like series of phases definitely occur, NONE of which can be predicted pluralistically from its antecedents. There are no constant carry-overs, from before the Emergence, to actually deliver discernable persisting causalities, in the New Stability!

Clearly, the original “it’s all happening” holism will simply NOT DO!

The way a holistic Universe self-generates and then maintains its stabilities is by changing its own context - the key and crucial process.

So, at this point, I must once more reflect upon my hero Zeno, whose Paradoxes took the alternative assumptions of Continuity and Descreteness to the limit, and showed them BOTH to be inadequate.

Is it that which is also what is involved in the study of all real Change, and all real Movement, whether of objects, or of Reality, in Flux?

Examples of Using the Holistic Method

I: Dance

For the last 20 years, I have been tackling the provision of Structured Video Resources for the Teaching of Dance Performance and Choreography, and, perhaps surprisingly, this same problem has been paramount at every stage.

The Descrete is delivered by a photograph or a still-frame from a digital video, and though a moving video seems to be the place to find the real dynamics involved, how do we study it in detail, without having to turn it into descrete stills?

The problem was solved, though I won’t labour it within this essay.

Its solution was no one-liner! Even when we had the solution in our hands, we didn’t actually understand why it was successful. It took most of the full 20 years to answer that, and, thereafter, generate a whole set of appropriate tools, to enable the proper study of dynamism on Movement, in both Effectiveness and in Expression.

The point of bringing up this work here, is to establish that there ARE areas of study which directly address Change, and allow a start to be made, which is NOT merely a continuation of Pluralist Science.

Mont Sainte Victoire Cezanne 1902

II: Painting

In the late nineteenth century, the painter Paul Cezanne sought a different way of what he termed “realisation” of the landscapes of his home district in the south of France. He was a man of the countryside, not of the city, and the wonders of mathematical perspective meant nothing in the rolling landscape around Mount Saint Victoire. He wanted his pictures to be “much more real” than was currently being delivered by his contemporaries, and he worked to devise methods of achieving his aim. He developed a delivery of the spaces of his landscapes by a series of new methods.

It is interesting that while other leading artists were moving away from what might be called “realism”, Cezanne was making it his main purpose, but that did not mean he sought a photographic likeness. He used the sequence of overlapping areas, plus a form of “colour modulation” to generate a strong third dimension. And, even more surprisingly, he integrated different viewpoints into the same picture, to reflect how we remember a scene concretely. His works were considerably more real than anyone else’s, and he had a major impact on many contemporary and following artists. Indeed, there is a strong argument that Cezanne was the father of early 20th century flowering of Modern Art, and, certainly, was seen as making contributions to several different modern trends.

He was dealing with Reality in new ways, a million miles from Mathematical perspective and photographic truth, yet more “real” than either of them could ever deliver.

Such a diversion into Art may seem inappropriate in an essay on Reason and Reality, but it is, on the contrary, most appropriate. While the dominant, “reasonable” approaches to Reality were inherently pluralist and particular, the best artists had always been holists, and tackled the full multifariousness of the visual world in an integrated, holistic way. Their methods often involved an attempt to capture something of the rich, varied and integrated nature of their subject, with simultaneous elements attempting to deliver something of the oneness and mutually determined nature of the subject.

Of course, it is just as impossible to fully deliver such an intention in a picture, as to doing it is in an explanation, but the method also delivered the subject by a particular, seemingly active view of it.

Such works cannot be said to be pluralistic – the attempt to deliver Reality by means of its perceived constituent Parts, but instead by attempting to “realise” its intrinsic wholeness.

Read any critic trying to describe what is going on in a masterpiece, to see the inadequacies of even describing what was being delivered. THE communication of the holistic content could only be the picture itself!

And for my purposes, I have to investigate such paths, because they are THE most successful attempts at a holistic approach to delivery of the Real rather than the mere Appearance.

Mankind does realise such things, and always has, but the achievements are considered as trivial, compared with those of Science and Technology, and even regarded as somewhat self-indulgent, as compared with the useful and applicable investigations of the scientists and technologists. But, as I have described in the examples of Geology and Evolution, many things in the experience of Mankind could NOT be penetrated by pluralistic means.

III: Human Development

Let us consider the holistic development of a human being!

Such an individual starts its existence as a fertilised egg – that of a female united with the sperm of a male. Even at the moment of conception, the essential plans for the future development of that consequent human being are already there and complete in the DNA of that fertilised egg. But, these instructions come into action at different stages in the subsequent development of the embryo, and are activated by the changing context of the egg at each and every different juncture.

With such a collection of unchanging genes, each with a particular role, either alone or in combination with others, the expressions of these genes are delivered, but they MUST be under some sort of control. They don’t all act together unhindered and unsynchronised. On the contrary, they spend most of their time inactive and only come into play at exactly the right time. What can coordinate their properly sequenced expression?

We have only the fertilised egg, its genetic material and its environment.

Initially at least, the environment must trigger particular genes, and the process commences. But, as the embryo grows in size and absorbs nutrients, there will be physical rearrangements of the cells, and different conditions will pertain in different parts. The environment becomes localised and differentiated with internal components to add to the enclosing context. This must be the crux.

The embryo itself with its increasing differentiation, and the products of earlier expressed genes, along with the environment will successively trigger the right genes at the right times, and from a single original egg, via a multiplication involving cell divisions and a sequence of gene expressions, will usually immaculately produce the individual, which at some stage can leave its perfect environment within its mother, and set out into the world as a separate human being.

The organism has been directed by its genetic blueprint, but IT, in turn, controls the expression of that plan. The development of the organism changes its own contained environment as it develops.

Now, if we were limited to a single-celled organism, we would also be limited finitely, and though that fragment of life will still have alternative and sequenced modes, they would all have to involve the whole cell in these changes. The true potential of this recursive loop can only be maximised, in the way outlined above, in a multi-cellular organism (such as our human being). For then, different “local” environments for different groups of cells can cause different “expressions” of the genes in appropriate areas. Indeed, different functional organs can be developed simultaneously in different places – produced by different expressions of the genes, and these will in turn affect each others local environments.

The multi-celled organism revolutionised the possibilities for Life, and after almost 3 billion years in the single celled phase of Life, the Emergence of the multicellular forms led to the famous Cambrian Explosive Radiation of life forms, which persists even today in the main basic body plans of living things.

Can you imagine some pluralist attempt dealing with all this via a series of equations? It couldn’t!

Such a scenario requires a holistic standpoint to even conceive of it happening.

The organism is constantly changing but via a sequence of relatively stable phases, while at certain crucial points, the whole organism undergoes an Emergence, and becomes essentially different, with different and NEW properties.

The Pillars of Creation - Hubble Space Telescope

IV: The Universe

To those who study Emergence, there can be NO doubt, the living organism in microcosm reflects the Cosmos in macrocosm. It too undergoes episodic Emergences, wherein the possibilities are radically extended, and the crucial essence of these Events involves the changing environment, which initially produced it, and which is now regularly changed by its own products.

Emergences create new possibility spaces (to use a modern expression), NOT posited in the individual from without, but generated from within, when incremental change can no longer be contained in the same way, and the whole structure is radically changed – not merely in Form, but vitally also in possibilities.


Not Form, but Cause

To return, for a moment, to my previously mentioned book, by Iain Stewart - Life’s Other Secret, Stewart’s thesis was that Mathematics was that other secret. He dismissed the “gene for everything” school of thought, and offered Mathematics as the determinator of many features of Living Things (the usual idealist error of inversion). But, Mathematics is about abstracting Form from Reality: it can never be a cause!

In the examples he gives, Stewart mistakes mere Form for determining cause, whereas it can only be a consequent result of some real and concrete multifarious processes. In concentrating on his beloved Mathematics, he ignored the true and fascinating real concrete causes.

Once more we see the limitations of Plurality, and the significant aberration of understanding that such an approach is bound to cause.

The reader, by now, will realise that this essay is neither a description of, nor a prescription for, a holistic Science. I am in no position to deliver such a thing. But, I can demonstrate that it is not only necessary, but also possible to develop such a methodology.

The reader will be forgiven for protesting that this essay seemed to promise Holistic Reason, or a Logic of Change, and has not delivered this. It is certainly true that a finished all-bells-and-whistles approach has not been described. If it had, it would be a truly world shattering revolution in Reason, but such systems can only be achieved over long periods, via the contributions of many innovative thinkers. It could never be produced in a single essay and from a single contributor.

The Laban Pure Form

The Multi-Discipline Approach

Nonetheless, I think that this contribution is important because of my unusual experience.

Not only am I a qualified Mathematician and Physicist, but have also reached the pinnacle of my profession in Pedagogy and also in programming Computers-in-Control. I am a long-standing sculptor and composer, and also spent a substantial fraction of my adult life in revolutionary politics. I am, as you may have guessed, a Marxist, though never a Stalinist. 

Since the early 1980’s my specialism in Computers-in-Control led to my assisting a wide variety of researchers in many disciplines, until finally I developed, with Dance Teacher colleague in Higher Education, a system for supplying Multimedia Resources for the Teaching of Dance, in which I an currently the world leader in the field.

I have been writing on science and Philosophy for over 15 years, and, since my retirement, have become full-time in these areas. I have written a series of books on Operational Research, the Methodology of Multimedia Pedagogy, Theory and Reality, Emergence and The Structures of Explanatory Diagrams. I have spent many years researching in Mathematics, with perhaps the best discoveries being the invention of an infinite Three Dimensional Strand (The Soma Strand) that stacks to fill space, and a polyhedral Teaching Aid (The Laban Pure Form) for use with Laban’s ideas in Dance Teaching, and his world famous Labanotation system for recording Dance works.

This width of interests is unique, and has fuelled my criticism of pluralist methods and philosophy in both Science and Reason. I am in a position to survey the landscape of Reality from a rare promontory, and at the very least discern that its proper exploration is certainly fully achievable, while “burying” the atrocities of current Quantum Theory in Physics along the way.

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