Bergson and Beyond


In the month that has transpired since my last musing, the momentum of my pondering has not slowed down. I'll try, here, to catch you up to date.

As I mentioned two musings ago, I finished reading Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. In the last note I made, you can see that Nagel referred to a book by Henri Bergson, titled Creative Evolution. I am currently 69% (thanks to Kindle for such precision) of the way through the book.

After passing the 2/3rd mark, I learned from a Google search that not only did Henri Bergson coin the term 'Élan Vital', but it was in this very book in which he did so. The entire book is his presentation of the idea that there is a vital life force at work in biological evolution. I'm not sure if Bergson was aware of it, but I learned that this life force is identified with Chi and other similar ideas from Eastern thought.

Of course, I identify the "life force" with the intentionality of the Transcendent Designer/Builder of my own TDB Theory.

My assessment is that Bergson, despite his chronological position, is a step ahead of Nagel: Nagel saw the limitations of Physical Science's attempts to explain biology but he despaired of ever finding a satisfactory theory that could explain it; Bergson, on the other hand, saw the same limitations but he went on to propose a theory. I think Bergson is right on the money—as far as he went. In my opinion, his theory is contaminated with the same two errors that I have identified, and explained in these musings, namely, the acceptance of the nonsense-notion of infinity, and the failure to acknowledge and accept the notion of hyper-space-time.

Just as I did while reading Nagel's book, I am taking notes as I read Bergson. I imagine myself participating in a Platonic dialog with him and note my agreements and disagreements as we go along. I can't help but imagine that Bergson might have accepted my suggestions if he were alive and had access to the new—and vast—understanding we have come to since 1907 when he wrote his book. He wrote before we understood the role of DNA in organisms, and before Quantum Mechanics was developed. Relativity was only a couple years old when he wrote, but I doubt that he was among those who understood it and accepted it. So, in spite of his superior intellect, I would have at least some advantage over him by having the rudimentary understanding that I have of physics, biology, and mathematics. Imagination is delightful if you let it run.

In the history of philosophy, the notion of the World, or the Universe, or the Cosmos, or of Reality itself, has undergone a steady growth in our conception of its size. In fact, it seems that we need to keep coming up with new terms for it, to wit the four terms I used in the previous sentence, because old concepts need to be separated out somehow from new concepts. My TDB theory falls right in line with this steady growth.

TDB theory proposes that Reality (still taking the highest possible position among the words denoting existence) consists of vastly more time and space than the 4-D space-time continuum of Einstein and de Sitter. In the very biggest picture, TDB describes an ultimately simple finite starting point and a subsequent evolution of time, space, information, knowledge, energy, and matter that has grown to something in the neighborhood of eleven dimensions of time and space with complex structures at all levels.

This evolution proceeds, not in a single dimension of time, as envisioned by Evolutionary Biologists, but in multiple temporal dimensions. It is more like the "evolution" of a feature film which also involves multiple dimensions of time.

Since this notion of multiple time dimensions may be confusing at this point, let me elaborate. Think about the "time dimensions" that are involved in the production of a feature film. First, there is the familiar dimension of time which is measured by your wristwatch and your calendar. I'll call that Dimension 1.

In Dimension 1, the earliest event related to the film is the first occurrence in the mind of someone, maybe an author or a director or someone else, that a particular movie could be made. The idea then evolves into a specific plan to write the screenplay, build the sets, select a cast, and do whatever other complex actions are required to begin shooting scenes for the film.

Still in this familiar dimension of time, Dimension 1, the scenes are shot, edited, and combined into the feature film which is finally wound up on a few reels. Then, following that, the film is reproduced and distributed to theaters, and following that, the film is passed through the projector in a theater as you sit in the theater seat and watch for an hour or so. All of that happens in Dimension 1.

But in addition to, and outside of, Dimension 1, there are several other temporal dimensions involved in the feature film. I'll list a few.

Dimension 2. The time sequence (temporal sequence) of the story line of the film. It might be a film about the Civil War which would mean that there would be no overlap with Dimension 1. There would, however, be a correspondence, or similarity, between the two: the rate of passage of time, and the markers of time, are the same. That is, a day during the Civil War would be the same 24 hours as in Dimension 1 and we would believe that an hour was the same length in the two.

Another similarity between Dimension 1 and Dimension 2 would be that they both always increase. Time in both always runs forward and never backward, and always at the same speed.

Now it would be fair to say that these two dimensions were really part of the same dimension, it's just that they are non-overlapping segments of the same overall dimension. That's a fair objection and we could consider them to be the same. But the point I want to make about these two is that depending on which one you are considering, you get a different answer to a question like, "At what time does the movie start?". One right answer would be, "At 8:00 at the Bijou." Another right answer would be "At noon, July 6, 1864."

Now consider Dimension 3. This is the time sequence of the story actions you will see if you watch the film. It might be that the movie contains flashbacks so that as you watch it, you have to realize that the actions shown are out of sequence with respect to Dimension 2. The sequence of Dimension 3 events is determined by the sequence of frames on the film. Note that the sequence of events in Dimension 3 correspond to the sequence of perceptive events in Dimension 1 but the durations do not match up. You might see a sequence of events on the film covering a couple of days in the story, while you watch that sequence in your theater seat in only a couple of minutes.

Next, consider Dimension 4. In this dimension, interruptions and variances in Dimension 3 appear. These variances could occur while you are watching the film. For example, the projectionist might accidentally mount the reels out of sequence, and after realizing the mistake, put the correct film in the projector and thus introduce a discontinuity or a distortion in Dimension 3. Or the film could be rewound and rerun at some point thus showing the same scene over again.

Variances would also, no doubt, occur during the editing of the film. The editor might have arranged the clips in a certain sequence (defining the film in Dimension 3), only to cut and rearrange the clips later to alter the film in Dimension 3 in order to achieve some desired effect. The film probably went through many such re-arrangements and alterations during the editing process. So, the evolution of the actual final film went through its changes along Dimension 4.

Reality could be like that. It could be that a Big-Bang event, followed by the evolutionary consequences, could be tried and rejected many times before it came out just right. Or it could be that multiple B-B events could be proceeding to evolve concurrently, each with its own temporal dimension, but all participating in yet another temporal dimension. I am strongly suggesting that this possibility be considered right along with the multiple additional spatial dimensions.

But I digress, and I apologize for the digression. Let me return to my high-level description of TDB theory. TDB describes an ultimately simple finite starting point and a subsequent evolution of time, space, information, knowledge, energy, and matter.

The "ultimately simple" starting point is vague but I insist, along with Occam, that nothing unnecessary be included. Certainly, we exclude an Almighty God with magic powers and who existed from eternity. But there may have been several constituents in existence at the beginning. Greylorn has posited two and only two such constituents: Raw Energy and an unspecified Aeon. Upon a little grilling, he would also admit that he assumes a 3D space in which these constituents exist. That assumption is consistent with Kant.

I do not take a position on exactly what those primordial constituents might be. My guess, however is that if there were any space at all, it would contain at most one, and maybe zero dimensions. Time would come into existence at the very first change event. What changed, and what prompted the change, is too murky even to speculate on.

But once something changed, reality immediately acquires not only time, but a difference between the states of reality before and after the change. The existence of a difference could, and probably did, lead to a succession of other changes. A possible model for this would be the oscillations caused by a disturbance in an otherwise equilibrium state. The oscillations could propagate through whatever exists in reality at the time. This is a vague suggestion of Greylorn's Aeon/Energy collision in which ripples, or some such disturbance, propagate through the energy. He and I differ only in our different views of how many dimensions of space would be required at the outset: he thinks it would be 3 and I favor 1 or 0.

At any rate, TDB theory goes on to posit that the resulting succession of state changes would follow the course dictated by logical necessity. In other words, nothing inconsistent could happen. George-Spencer Brown suggested a system of the simplest starting points and the logical consequences implied by them. Scholars following him say they have shown that his starting point is consistent with all other systems of logic from Aristotle to Boole. Dick Stafford claims to have proven that the assumption of consistency is sufficient to derive a differential equation, the solutions to which are familiar laws of Physics. In my opinion, this amounts to the discovery of a mathematical theorem which solves Hilbert's Sixth Problem, i.e. deriving Physics from pure thought.

As reality unfolds along its primordial spatial and temporal dimensions, somehow, probably by some spatial structure wrapping around to re-connect with itself, patterns of changes become stabilized within the "storage ring" resulting from the "wrapping". And somehow, via a change process that can follow the ring around, like a wave in a stadium crowd, patterns in the ring can be repeated in time. This would amount to the rudimentary start of information, if we define information as Shannon did: a difference that makes a difference. The changes constituting the patterns in our "storage ring" would constitute information. The patterns in the spatial "ring" would make a difference in the patterns produced in time.

In this speculation, we not only have the one spatial dimension of the storage ring, we have a second spatial dimension which is logically required in order for the string to loop around and reconnect. So, at this stage, reality consists of at least two spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension.

Left to run, it is conceivable that additional complexity would be generated simply by the logical predictions of consistency. This additional complexity would include the generation of additional spatial dimensions via the mechanism of space-filling fractal patterns. Additional temporal dimensions would be generated by the appearance of whatever it is that causes, or is, the "wave" that can follow the patterns in the "storage rings".

The key components of reality then, at this early speculative stage, are spatial and temporal dimensions, some substrate existing in the space, which we identify as energy, a patterned structure of energy that is stable—some kind of memory—, and some structure of the existing energy patterns that can follow a series of structures along the memory—a rudimentary "knower". This is my brother John's "Stylus Guy".

From this point on, the basic cycle of the evolution of reality is that at some level of dimensionality, the "knower" devises and produces an environment consisting of one more dimension of space, and one more dimension of time than that of the knower's environment. In that new environment, the knower then produces artifacts in its own dimension and in all dimensions lower than that of itself. These artifacts evolve to be more complex than the knower that created them, and at some point in the evolution, the artifacts acquire all the information held by the knower, and then take over as knowers in their own right.

In tracing the hierarchical connections between knowers and artifacts, which may or may not match the dimensional hierarchy, either time or space, in general we find that the higher you go, the fewer dimensions and the more rudimentary the "understanding" by the knower. We humans are relatively low on the hierarchy, living in 4D, but we produce some very sophisticated artifacts of other dimensionalities. For example, 1D symphonies, 2D paintings and printed circuit boards, and 3D airplanes and Mars rovers. As our computers increase in their capabilities some futurists have predicted that they will take over as the top organism in the evolutionary chain and replace us. At this "singularity", as it is sometimes called, TDB theory predicts that this new intellect will create another level of space-time with even more complex and capable artifacts.

So, as you go up the hierarchy, capability decreases and vanishes at the top, just like the Wizard of Oz. And as you go down the hierarchy defined by knower above and artifact below, you find increasing complexity and capability.

I am deep into the weeds here and have gone well beyond Bergson. I am also getting very hungry so it is a good time to quit and come back to this later and see whether or not it makes any sense. Thanks for your forbearance.

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