SPREADSHEET — PARALLELS BETWEEN DYNAMICS IN ACTION AND INCOMPLETE NATURE
Major theses of Dynamics in Action are the following:
1. Attempts to reduce end-directedness and goal-directedness (teleology, purposiveness) — or agency, intentionality (consciousness, sentience) to Newtonian mechanical (efficient) causality won’t work.
2) Aristotelian formal and final causes once served this purpose but is no longer an option since the Enlightenment/Scientific Revolution — Kant knew this, and associated teleology and intrinsic finality with self-organization. Prigogine’s discovery of dissipative structures and the role autocatalysis plays in these far-from equilibrium, complex dynamical processes, provide a scientific respectable understanding of teleology as self-organization.
3) It is therefore best to reconceptualize causality in other terms to account for teleology and purposiveness, and to how intention causes action — thereby providing much clarification to mental causation.
4) Consider information theory and entropy in Thermodynamics: Concepts such as Equivocation and Noise (Dretske) allow us to track the flow of information from source to sink, thereby providing a diachronic element to causal processes. Far from equilibrium thermodynamics do not violate the first law.
5) Part-whole and whole-part context-sensitive/dependent constraints (redundancy) — especially the endogenously created constraints that appear in autocatalysis — can account for mereological causality. Bottom-up constraints are enabling, expand degrees of freedom; top-down second/higher-order constraints — from whole to part — are restrictive — differences between physical, chemical and biological constraint production & operation do not obviate the similarities and both types of constraints. Such consotraints can account for “whole to part causality” (or top-down causality) — they also embody formal and final causes without reduction or remainder.
6) The workings of constraint in both cases are changes in probability/frequency distribution — reconceptualizing constraints and causality in terms of alterations in probability distributions dissolves the Maxwell demon problem by making the demon an internal, endogenously produced, constraint. Second law of thermodynamics is thereby upheld too.
7) 5 and 6 above are best understood as ontogenetic and phylogenetically constructed dynamical attractors and can be pictured topologically. Doing so dissolves the semantics/syntax (meaning-grammar) problem — and addresses Searle’s Chinese room objection.
8) The self, free will, and individuality are best also reconceptualized and understood as the operations of complex dynamical constraints.
9) Dynamical constraint operation is irreducible to matter/energy considerations. Because of the decoupling between levels that characterizes multiple realizability and which is a feature of higher level constraints, emergence is real. Because emergent properties are real — and exert causal power from whole-part — so too are purposiveness, teleology, selfhood, free will, etc.
10) Agency and intentional causation are the exercise of whole-part dynamical constraints, as is purposiveness and teleology.
11) Biological constraints are semiotic and interpretive, and serve as the mechanism for evolutionary selection.