[Fis] Focusing on Narratives. Happenstances

Joseph Brenner joe.brenner at bluewin.ch
Fri Nov 30 10:48:53 CET 2018

Dear Pedro, Dear Loet,


It would be useful, at least for this beginning student of philosophy, to
have the equivalent of happenstance in some other languages. ‘Happenstance’
is English is equated to ‘random event’. If the term is applied to
occurrences in daily life, this makes them random. I disagree with this
ascription. Happenstances are for me events which are epistemologically
opaque, not ontologically random. Thus I wish to explain as many of them as
possible, as some indeed, perhaps the most significant ones in real life,
deserve as rigorous an explanation as possible.


As I struggle to understand the purport of ‘narrative’, I try to relate it
to the deterministic and non-deterministic aspects of active consciousness.
If I say that these aspects are a part of and even crucial to the narrative,
the ‘narrative’ is changing. This is a good sign that a narrative may be
something real. I do not, do not want to, and I think should not separate
discovery from the, also changing, context of discovery. Pedro focuses,
correctly, on the ‘messiness’ of the result; real life may consist in part
of explanantes and explananda, but not in the classical, I am afraid
abstract sense. 


That is my ‘orientation for the troubled future’: nothing certain; pieces of
useful method to be recovered from amidst a lot of jargon (e.g.,
dialectics); openness to everything that does not require absolute adherence
to the fundamentality of abstractions.







From: Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] On Behalf Of Loet
Sent: vendredi, 30 novembre 2018 07:07
To: Pedro C. Marijuan; fis at listas.unizar.es
Subject: Re: [Fis] Focusing on Narratives


Dear Pedro, 


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. 

This is called the context of discovery. Real life is neither an explanans
nor an explanandum. Who wishes to explain happenstances?


This is strange. 


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. 


I assume that your behaviour is more "natural" than mine.  Eventually, this
may lead to narratives as bla-bla. Of course, everything has to be spelled
out in an explanation.





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


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


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.








Loet Leydesdorff 


Professor emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)


loet at leydesdorff.net <mailto:loet at leydesdorff.net>;
Associate Faculty, SPRU, <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/>University of


Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/>, Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor, ISTIC,


Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/>, University of London; 





Best regards

 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,







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,


Fis mailing list
Fis at listas.unizar.es



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


gn=sig-email&utm_content=emailclient> Libre de virus. www.avast.com




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

L'absence de virus dans ce courrier électronique a été vérifiée par le logiciel antivirus Avast.
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