[Fis] FW: Anticipatory Systems--"Potential"

Joseph Brenner joe.brenner at bluewin.ch
Mon Nov 26 17:59:30 CET 2018

Thank you, Bruno, for this interesting response. May I please make a few
comments/questions in its context, with apologies if I have asked them


1.	What is mechanism and are you a mechanist?
2.	I do assume a physical reality, which is obviously (to me)
constituted by quantum entities/fields.
3.	With this assumption, is it still premature to identify this
physical reality with material reality?
4.	I do not make any assumptions about a possible sub-stratum for this
material reality, whose nature remains to be understood, since I suggest it
has no implications for the world-as-we-know-it. Would you agree?


Best regards,





From: Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] On Behalf Of Bruno Marchal
Sent: vendredi, 23 novembre 2018 12:13
To: Joseph Brenner
Cc: fis
Subject: Re: [Fis] Anticipatory Systems--"Potential"


Hi Joseph,



On 21 Nov 2018, at 09:31, Joseph Brenner <joe.brenner at bluewin.ch> wrote:


Dear Colleagues,


Pedro’s approach, solidly anchored in biology, allows for progress in
understanding. Two comments on his ‘logic’: 1) I would not call the
‘concoction’ within which we live imaginary. It is rather a set of real,
dynamic mental processes, with actual and potential, effectively causal
components. 2) ‘Complex life’ instantiates potential (and kinetic) energy
not only in a ‘book keeping role’. Complex life is constituted by actual and
potential energy evolving in cycles and stages. Some myths (Epimetheus and
Prometheus) correctly express this duality and its evolution.


Unfortunately, there is another myth that I believe correctly models part of
Jerry’s proposals. It is that of Procrustes, an innkeeper who stretched or
cut the legs of his guests to make them fit the only available beds, until
taken care of by Heracles. You write:   A lot more needs to be said about
the intimate nature of relations among scientific narratives before one can
bind the logic of the perplex number system to the grammars associated with
mathematically structured anticipatory systems.


This sentence needs to be parsed, given the concatenation of terms: in my
opinion, the purpose of understanding the relations among scientific
narratives is to understand real anticipatory systems, whether or not
mathematically structured. Perplex numbers are artificial numerological
constructions with a corresponding logic that may or may not apply to other
artificial constructions, such as abstract anticipatory systems, without
dynamics. Narratives about real science could be applied in principle to
such questions, but the implication must be avoided that such application
would tell us anything about reality. 


Which reality?


I cannot accept any manipulation of numbers as being more than a posteriori.
This applies also to Karl’s approach. 


It applies to all Mechanist theory of mind. If Mechanism is true, physics
cannot be the fundamental science, and is recovered by the
anticipation-calculus (Plotinusand Plato’s bastard calculus) on all possible
computations going through my brain state. 


Also, the concept of an ‘in-formed’ number is an oxymoron, although I
understand the attempt to ascribe ‘value-by-association’, so to speak.
Numbers cannot accept ‘form’, or its meaning; they exist, eternally, outside
the world of form and change.  


Like a Block universe in general relativity. Time is an indexical: it is a
construction of the mind of the relative numbers. 


I thus stress the importance of Pedro’s statement:  processes do not go
smoothly upwards from the quantum level. As one proceeds to higher levels of
reality, there are discontinuities and different laws apply. 


OK. But that is the case in arithmetic when seen from inside.


One only notes the presence of some isomorphisms, such as the failure of
some macroscopic process equations to commute or distribute. Finally, I, at
least, will resist any attempts to let in, through the back door,
anti-scientific concepts of quantum processes in mind and cognition.


I follow you on this. With mechanism, we explain the quantum from the
mathematics of what a machine can say about the computations going through
her state. The quantum aspect of nature is explained by elementary
arithmetic, with definitions which can be motivated through thought
experience, or taken from Plato (they are quite standard one).


I guess you assume non-mechanism, which makes then coherent to invoke some
ontological “physical reality”. But as this is what I want to explain, I
prefer to avoid any ontological commitment, as we have to do when doing
metaphysics/theology with the scientific attitude. For the application, that
is a different matter, but I take the quantum and the physical in general as
something that we have to explain (as this follows from the mechanist
assumption). It is testable and tested, and up to now, this works well, so
to invoke a material reality is at the least premature, I think.


All the best,






Best wishes,




From: Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] On Behalf Of Pedro C.
Sent: mardi, 20 novembre 2018 21:15
To: fis
Cc: Jerry LR Chandler
Subject: Re: [Fis] Anticipatory Systems--"Potential"


Dear Jerry and FIS colleagues,

I wonder how big or how clever your Chemostat apparatus should be. There are
thousands of metabolic intermediates in an organism, and there are another
thousands of diversified signals. And we have in the order of 30 billion
cells (trillions in the US system). Plus around 100 trillion of bacterial
cells in the microbiome. "We" are the emergence all of that molecular
diversity. It does not mean that life exactly "controls" all the details of
the mega-information of this whole system... How that control is organized,
the principles of biological information, so to speak, become another great
question, but probably very different from the idea of mass control in a
chemostat. In any case, the way you have argued it, seemingly smoothly going
upwards from the quantum level, is beyond of what I consider feasible.
Scientific overstretching of a reasonable paradigm perhaps.

Socially, indeed, we do not try to communicate around by following a
colossal strategy of reducing happenstances to their quantum description;
neither to the kind of meta-languages you mention. In general, social
communication revolves around narratives. They are not free-wheeling
constructions (at least referring to the "great stories" of all epochs) but
optimized tools to guide individuals in the advancement of their lives, in
the achievement of their "potential". Looking at the historical evolution of
those great stories, they are teaching us about which were the cardinal
aspects of common life to be specifically grasped by the child, by the
adolescent, by the maiden, the artisan, the warrior, the priest... And in
this social communication endeavors, life cycles do not appear as
homogeneous linearly "timed". Human lives are continuously looking ahead,
anticipating ("Prometheus" style) but simultaneously looking at the past and
pondering on it ("Epimetheus" style). Although "presentists", we live within
an imaginary concoction built of mosaic pasts and futures, "multi-timed" so
to speak. The way to harmonize past, present, and future (vital information)
is one of the leit motifs of those great stories.

And about cycles, so many of them can be found. At the scale of the
organism:  cellular & tissular cycles, metabolic cycles, behavioral cycles,
ultradian cycles, circadian cycles, seasonal cycles, yearly cycles, secular
cycles, and many others related to social mores. Some of them can be
arranged in a sort of hierarchy or inclusivity, but there is a fundamental
diversity. That most of this orchestration of cycles does not require a
conscious effort does not mean that we should ignore them concerning the
roots of social communication. The cycles and stages (and "passages") within
a life cycle have an ominous presence. As i was saying, the "potential" of
each young life in ascend requires the reception of wisdom (via social
communication narratives) to integrate the own individual path within the
social matrix of the time.

Thinking twice about the "potential" of life, it might be something
important to consider regarding any form or manifestation of life. Perhaps
better than the Principle of Conatus from Spinoza I was referring days ago
(the effort to self-maintain and flourish). Complex life has "potential" to
advance along some multi-time, multi-cycle developmental path in the most
complex of all environments: the social matrix. Is there some deep
similarity of this potential with the role that "potential" energy plays in
our book-keeping of energy conservation?

Thanking the comments,

El 19/11/2018 a las 1:55, Jerry LR Chandler escribió:

Pedro, List: 


To put this in context, see  my extensive post of Oct 27, which is re-posted

On Oct 31, 2018, at 3:53 PM, Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>


Also I would like to be able to respond to other demands from Jerry, but
here is my counter-demand: could you adventure tools to formally capture
such a multi-time, multi-rhythm being as a life-cycle in progress?


Here I merely respond to Pedro’s counter demand.


The formal capture of such “multi-time, multi-rhythm being as a life cycle
in process” is captured by time sequences of measurements on specific
compositions of the specific species of life.  The wide-spread
experimentation with Chemostats is one such example. The Chemostat apparatus
establishes and maintains a steady state rate of reproduction with constant
input flows of nutrients and constant outflow of cells and waste and unused
nutrients. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemostat

A chemostat allows unbounded number of measurements of time series of
unbounded number of cellular components by merely changing flow rates and
other constraining parameters.


(I really do not understand the distinction between the terms "multi-time"
and "multi-rhythm" since multi-rhythm infers multi-time.  Perhaps it would
be more appropriate to speak of the multiplicity of biochemical cycles that
are necessary for the chemical system to reproduce itself in the sense that
one cell begets two cells in uni-cellular organisms or, similarly, in higher
organisms with orgasms, two individuals reproduce by generating a third
individual with directly comparable cycles.)


More directly to the issues of numbers and information theory, the remaining
challenges are not a consequence of “errors” of thinking in the basic
physics of matter.  Rather, a central unsolved problem is closely associated
with time and material cycles, cycles within material cycles, cycles within
cycles within material cycles.   Quantum theory (QED) provides the basic
mathematics to initiate cycles within cycles (nuclear spin surrounded by
electron spin).  The challenge is to generate  from QED mathematics, the
mathematics of cycles within cycles with cycles describing molecules, and
higher cycles of natural sorts and kinds. 


 This can be deictic with a partition of the complete lexis of all possible
narratives. The formal status  should relate to Tarski’s “meta-languages”.
see “The Primary Logic” by Michel Malatesta for a detailed description of
the relationships between the lexus of individual disciplines. 


The following quote from Cerruti (Foundations of Chemistry · August 2017)
seems to illuminate certain aspects of the problem:

In a sense, the very same title of the foundational work by Rudolf Carnap
(Der logische Aufbau der



Welt, 1928) expresses very clearly the cognitive purposes of the proponents
of this viewpoint. The semantic view shifts the philosopher’s attention from
the logical analysis of theories towards an investigation based on
mathematical models. A relevant supporter of this standpoint is the Dutch
philosopher Bas van Fraassen (mentioned by Fortin and coauthors). In his
1980 essential work, van Fraassen clearly speaks of ‘‘failure of the
syntactic approach’’ and strongly claims that: ‘‘the notions of truth and
model belong to semantics’’ (van Fraassen 1980, pp. 43 and 53). According to
the Dutch philosopher ‘‘Any structure which satisfies the axioms of a theory
[...] is called a model of that theory’’, and ‘‘The models occupy centre
stage’’. Van Fraassen’s models are to be intended in the strictly
mathematical sense of the theory of models. For example, talking about the
Bohr’s atomic model, he distances himself from this use of the term: ‘‘in
the scientists’ use, ‘model’ denotes what I would call a model-type’’ (van
Fraassen 1980, p. 44). In synthesis: ‘‘For the Syntactic View, what is not
(or cannot be) reconstructed axiomatically is not theoretical, while for the
Semantic View, what is not (or cannot be) modeled mathematically is not
theoretical’’. Based on this sharp contrast, it is not surprising that the
supporters of the syntactic versus semantic views have often chosen a
‘‘strategy of combat’’ within the philosophical debate (Winther 2015). 

I’ll stop here for now.  A lot more needs to be said about the intimate
nature of relations among scientific narrative before one can bind the logic
of the perplex number system to the grammars associated with mathematically
structured anticipatory systems.










On Oct 21, 2018, at 1:58 PM, Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>


Dear FIS Collegues,

To Jerry: Thanks for the appreciation. I cannot object the logico-formal
path you propose, but is it feasible?


Since it already operates in nature, does this make these paths
mathematically infeasible?


It seems that nature does what nature does, without questioning it’s


Several disciplines already have made the logic-formal path of molecular
biology the critical basis of practice - the leading practitioners of
personalized medicine, for example.  The readers of this list have the
opportunity to learn the foundation of modern biomedical information theory,
rather than simply deny its existence!  Meanwhile, the high school students
of today are learning the intricacies of the several coding systems
necessary to represent natural information transfer.


I really doubt that a new way of thinking could emerge by logically bridging
those different disciplines; the magnitude is more than enormous.


Your strange fears are unwarranted, in my opinion.

My argument is that the most pressing problems in the informational arena
(susceptible of being "bridged") refer to cell-cycle logics of signaling,
and human life advancement and social communication strategies.


It seems to me that your analysis could be stronger if you separate the
grounding of information transmission in various narrative categories.
Pragmatic information transportation is grounded in composed organizations.
Naturally composed organizations are not merely  mathematical metaphysics,
they are real functional identities. 

At the root of organized systems are the codes of representations. Quantum
theory forms the dynamics. The informed numbers of nature form the
transmission agents for information transfer and information re-formations
(reactive compositions that change the scale of being).  Organisms reproduce
information, not merely send information from point A to point B.  

The informed numbers of living systems are not merely inert symbols of
meta-physical mathematics (phenomenology?), but informed numbers have
attributes.  The attributes of informed numbers are expressible in several
codes (symbol systems), including the electrical symbols of quantum theory.


Narratives are not the sceintific subject per se, but only in their tight
relationship with the advancement of our own individual lives. Tales,
comedies, tragedies, operas, novels, lullabies, media, today propaganda ...
are natural units with different calibers that are useful for different life
situations. In all cases the universal reference is the advancement of the
life course.


Very interesting sentences.

But, without a definition of what is meant by “natural units”, it is unclear
to me what the logical content is.  

For example, what are the "natural units” of psychology? 


In other words, if I may ask, is the intent to assert some sort of universal

If this conjecture is true, I would appreciate a hint or two about the
logical base of the extension. Are you seeking to imply Tarski’s

Stories provide us with a unique mirror to the inner dynamics of human


Is this sentence ambiguous? 

The the term “mirror” merely a metaphor to remove reality from the dynamics
of the human?

Or, is it the same sort of “mirror” used in Quantum theory to distinguish
the asymmetry of optical isomers that are essential for generating human

While I appreciate the attempts to create a useful descriptive language for
biological information theory, it seems to me that a foundation for
scientific information theory must be a quantitive theory with logical terms
that represent mathematical terms.  The concept of informed numbers provide
such a basis. Elsewhere, I have used the term “organic mathematics” to
represent the relation logics of informed numbers.







Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es



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