[Fis] Focusing on Narratives

Pedro C. Marijuan pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
Thu Nov 29 21:09:47 CET 2018

Dear FIS Colleagues,

Some brief responses to Loet's and Jerry's comments.

To Loet, unfortunately real life does not allow such neat scheme of 
expectations, observations, and modifications/decisions--except in the 
abstract. Daily life is surrounded by multitude of behavioral cycles and 
happenstances from the subject himself and from the surrounding parties 
impinging on the subject. It is difficult to isolate mainstreams there, 
and it is difficult to know how to orient oneself for the troubled 
future. Besides, important decisions are often irreversible, they mark 
the course of life and there is no way to return to the initial 
conditions. How easily a promising young life can be wasted... And this 
is the role of traditional great stories/narratives: lecturing on how to 
realize the "potential" of one's life, orienting on the big unknowns 
that particularly the young party starting his/her social life has to 
confront. They orient, amuse, and "entertain"--all in one. In our 
parlance, they are highly efficient _social information tools_ that 
contain important adaptive knowledge for flourishing in some concrete 
culture. I do not see much interest in what physicalist perspectives can 
say on that. Maybe I did not succeed with the terms, trying to connect 
the social potential with the general biological potentiality, but this 
was the gist.

In any case, there was a statement in my previous message /"I do not 
consider unscientific the Jungian stance, but not quite scientific 
either"/ that in a second thought consider inappropriate. Rather, Jung's 
work in this realm should be taken as belonging to the Humanities. Just 
that. And to be fair he has provided a strong way to analyze 
stories/narratives which has been adopted by some of the most relevant 
commentators today (Booker, Bonnet). The further point, after 
acknowledging that scholarly fact, is whether that perspective can be 
improved... Probably. I already mentioned about the unconscious: that it 
could be more accurate considering the brain-rest activation of 
contemporary neuroscience (Default Mode Network) as taking charge of 
that involuntary emergence of impressions and deep memories. There are 
now ambitious theoretical schemes of neural information processing that 
could provide light on other points of the conscious, the emotional, the 
sensorimotor, the excitation/inhibition coupling, the optimization of 
neural entropy, etc. But they have to connect with natural behavior, and 
also finally with narratives.

To Jerry's, after his four pages on perplex number system, I can only 
say that great, terrific. It could have been an interesting presentation 
for an ad hoc discussion session. I am tempted to twist a few sentences 
of his text and to intercalate four pages or so on signaling systems, or 
on the "sociotype", which is closer to the current session. But that is 
not the scholarly way of discussion.

To finalize, there is a provocative sentence in Bonnet's closing of his 
book: *"The one who tells the stories rules the world."*

Best wishes

El 25/11/2018 a las 5:10, Loet Leydesdorff escribió:
> Dear Pedro, Joseph, and colleagues,
> Let me side with Joseph in this instance.
>> memories? And, similarly, does not "potential" refer to 
>> cognitive/anticipatory capabilities that somehow detect higher 
>> fitness possibilities along some behavioral paths than others, and 
>> then conduce to the long term realization and flourishing of a life 
>> cycle? The potential belongs, say, to the "processual" not to the 
>> physical. In my view, the general challenge is to re-explain 
>> narratives, the fundamental commodity of social communication, in a 
>> more advanced conceptualization, beyond the Jungian, the Shannonian, 
>> or the corrosive fake-correctedness  of our times... It can be done. 
>> The neuroscientific approach would be badly needed to recreate the 
>> terminology and the fundamental ideas.
> Perhaps, I miss the meaning of some of the wordings in this narrative 
> :-), but it seems to me that there is something terribly wrong here. 
> "The potential belongs ... to the "processual." We can consider this 
> as "nom de gueux."
> One always begins with the specification of expectations. I assume 
> that these are then "processual"? Expectations (possible states) are 
> tested against observations and can then sometimes be rejected.
> For example: One can hypothesize that there are gender differences on 
> this list. Then, one can cross-table those of us who on average 
> publish 0, 1, or 2 postings with the gender differences (M/F).  This 
> generates a 3 times 2  table.
> Using the margin totals one can compute the expected values of each 
> cell and test the observed values against the expectations. The 
> expectations are "processual"? Indeed, they are possibilities which do 
> not have to be realized. That is an empirical question.
> Unfortunately, Logic-in-Reality works as a logic with only two values 
> (T/F). This may lead to a poor design when one needs more grey shades.
> Best,
> Loet.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Loet Leydesdorff
> Professor emeritus, University of Amsterdam
> Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
> loet at leydesdorff.net <mailto:loet at leydesdorff.net>; 
> http://www.leydesdorff.net/
> Associate Faculty, SPRU, <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/>University of 
> Sussex;
> Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/>, 
> Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC, 
> <http://www.istic.ac.cn/Eng/brief_en.html>Beijing;
> Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/>, University of London;
> http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ych9gNYAAAAJ&hl=en
>> Best regards
>> --Pedro
>>  El 21/11/2018 a las 9:31, Joseph Brenner escribió:
>>> 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.
>>> I cannot accept any manipulation of numbers as being more than /a 
>>> posteriori. /This applies also to Karl’s approach. 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.
>>> 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. 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.
>>> Best wishes,
>>> Joseph
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> *From:*Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] *On Behalf Of 
>>> *Pedro C. Marijuan
>>> *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,
>>> Best--Pedro
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Fis mailing list
>>> Fis at listas.unizar.es
>>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis
>> -- 
>> -------------------------------------------------
>> Pedro C. Marijuán
>> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
>> pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
>> http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
>> -------------------------------------------------
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Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group

pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es

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