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volume II: Synopsis

page 7:

Mind

Here we model the Universe as a layered communication network analogous to the forest of networks that constitute the internet. Every network is built on a physical layer of silicon, copper, silver and gold which provides the physical symbols that carry the information and the channels through which the information flows. Computer network - Wikipedia

Each higher layer in the network is build on the layer beneath it. In ordinary computer networks, the highest layer is represented by the human users of the network. Each message from one user to another drills down through all the layers at the senders end of the communication link, makes its way through the physical connection and then burrows up through the software at the receiving end to reach the receiving user. All of this process is invisible ('transparent') to the users unless something goes wrong. Network science - Wikipedia

The Universe, we propose, has a similar structure. I am the user of my own body, which is a layered network of organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms reaching all the way down to the lowest physical layer, which we assume to be simply a structureless sign or symbol formally identical to the initial singularity, or, in mathematical terms, the empty set.

This simple picture, to be developed in detail on this site, gives us an easy way to model the relationship between mind and body. Mind and body are relative concepts, mind being the higher layer of the network, body the lower. Mind controls body to achieve its ends, just as I am doing here, thinking about what I want to say and using my fingers to type it out. Body feeds information to mind which mind uses to decide what to do.

Mind controls body, which leads us to cybernetics, the study of 'control and communication in the animal and the machine'. Wiener While symmetry underlies the randomness we find in the world, control explains its stability: in a dynamic system like the Universe, we can expect to find control where we see stability.

Control means, in effect, a definite connection between past and future. I control something if I can determine its future behaviour. The theoretical basis of such definite connection is the mathematical theory of communication pioneered by Claude Shannon. Claude E Shannon

Shannon, working for Bell telephone, was searching for means to guarantee error free communication over telephone lines and other channels. Error occurs when messages are confused, something that occurs frequently in conversation and when we mishear the lyrics of s song, a phenomenon called mondegreen. Mondegreen - Wikipedia

Shannon realized that messages are more likely to be confused if they are close together in 'message space'. So the key to avoiding error is to encode different messages so that they are as far apart as possible. The idea is quite similar to Descartes notion of a 'clear and distinct idea'. Lex Newman

This suggests that we might see evidence for mind at work in the quantization of the Universe. From the time of Aristotle until the beginning of the twentieth century the Universe was considered to be continuous. This assumption ultimately led to severe difficulties in the construction of physical models of the Universe. These difficulties were first overcome by Max Planck's 'desperate' assumption that the Universe is quantized (but see Kuhn for a more detailed history). By quantization we mean that observable states of the Universe are clearly distinct from one another, like the lines in the spectrum of an atom or molecule. Wherever we look, the Universe is a collection of separate things. Max Planck, Kuhn

The key to moving messages further apart in message space is to increase the size of the space by making individual messages longer. The size of the space grows exponentially with the length of messages while the number of messages needed to transmit a given amount of information may decrease since more information is packed into each message.

From this we conclude that more complex systems may be more stable since they are less prone to error. This fact appears to explain the evolution of complexity that we observe in the Universe, which has moved from a structureless initial singularity to the enormously complex world that we now inhabit.

At each level of the universal network, mind performs the encoding and decoding that implements Shannon's ideas. Our human minds have enabled us to develop languages to share meaning. Shared meaning enables shared work and shared fitness. The outputr of our mental encoding and decoding of messages is often called insight. Understanding what a message means requires 'intellectual' insight and understanding how to express one's thoughts requires 'practical' insight. Lonergan

This site is my attempt to gain insight into the working of the Universe that made me. My principal tool is a transfinite model of a communication network which shows how I can extrapolate from my own experiences of communication up to the mind of God and down to the minds of atoms.

The mind of God comprehends all possibilities. Although each of us experiences but a tiny fraction of God, there is no restriction on which fraction. Bit by bit, we can imagine and share all our visions of God to build up a comprehensive theological picture.

Traditionally, God's manifestation to us is called revelation. As the next page reveals, revelation in natural theology comes not from ancient books, but from every experience of every human life.

(revised 26 March 2013)

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Further reading

Books

Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Aquinas, Thomas, and Kenelm Foster, Sylvester Humphries (translators), Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima, Dumb Ox Books 1959 'A translation of William of Moerbeke's latin text of Aristotle's On the Soul (a brilliant little treatise on life written 2300 years ago) together with a latin commentary by the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas. Here is an ancient foundation for the Christian belief in the immortality of the soul.' 
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Aristotle, and (translated by W S Hett), On the Soul, Parva Naturalia, On Breath, Harvard University Press (USA) ; William Heinemann Ltd (UK) 1975 Introduction: 'This collection of treatises belongs to subjects on the borderline between bodily and mental. Aristotle was the son of a doctor and himself a biologist, who believed in experiment and dissection as a means of collecting evidence. Thus his views on the soul are influenced by his physiology. Yet he never falls into the meshes of materialism, and appears quite certainn that the body cannot possibly explain the mind. ...' 
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Axelrod, Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation, Basic Books 1985 Amazon.com: 'This book is a must-read not only for students (broadly defined) of the social sciences, but also for politicians and bureaucrats, especially those in charge of military and foreign affairs. Axelrod's book is a tour-de-force in multi-method approaches. Although the author is a trifle repetitive and occasionally laborious, I think the profound content of the book far outweighs the minor inadequacies of its form. At the risk of sounding like a logical positivist, I would venture to say that Axelrod's approach offers hope for a bottom-up construction of cooperation in an uncertain world without a central authority.' Reeshad Dalal 
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Cummins, Denise Dellarosa, and Colin Allen (editors), The Evolution of Mind, Oxford University Press 1998 Introduction: 'This book is an interdisciplinary endeavour, a collection of essays by ethologists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers united in the common goal of explaining cognition. . . . the chief challenge is to make evolutionary psychology into an experimental science. Several of the chapters in this volume describe experimental techniques and results consistent with this aim; our hope and intention is that they lead by example in the development of evolutionary psychology from the realm of speculation to that of established research program' 
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Damasio, Antonio R, The Feeling of What Happens : Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness , Harcourt Brace 1999 Jacket: 'In a radical departure from current views on consciousness, Damasio contends that explaining how we make mental images or attend to those images will not suffice to elucidate the mystery. A satisfactory hypothesis for the making of consciousness must explain how the sense of self comes to mind. Damasio suggests that the sense of self doe snot depend on memory or on reasoning or even less on language. [it] depends, he argues, on the brain's ability to portray the living organism in the act of relating to an object. That ability, in turn, is a consequence of the brain's involvement in the process of regulating life. The sense of self began as yet another device aimed an ensuring survival.' 
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Dehaene, Stanislaus, The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics, Oxford University Press 1997 Jacket: 'In recent years, many exciting scientific discoveries have begun to unravel how the human brain performs mathematical calculations. . . . Evolution has endowed each of us with an innate ability for arithmetic, an intuition of numerical quantitites which, combined with our uniquely human ability for language, stands at the core of our ability to create mathematics. In The Number Sense SD offers the first comprehensive and accessible synthesis of this new field of research and its wide ranging educational and philosophical implications.' 
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Fodor, Jerry A, The Modularity of Mind , MIT Press 1983 Jacket: 'This monograph synthesizes current information from the various fields of cognitive science in support of a new and exciting theory of mind. Most psychologists study horizontal processes like memory. Fopdor postulates a vertical and modular psychological organisation underlying biologically coherent behaviours. This view of mental architecture is consistent with the historical tradition of facultu psychology while integrating a computational approach to mental processes. One of the most notable aspects of Fodor's work is that it articulates fetures not only of speculative cognitive architectures but also of current research in artifical intelligence.' Prof. Alvin Liberman, Yale University, 
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Hofstadter, Douglas R, and Daniel C Dennett, The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul, Bantam 1985 Jacket: 'In this unique, mind-jolting book, DH, the author of Gädel, Escher, Bach, the intellectual best seller that won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize, and Philosopher Daniel Dennett, author of the widely acclaimed Brainstorms, explore the meaning of self and consciousness through the perspectives of literature, artificial intelligence, psychology and much more. ... ' 
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Jaynes, Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books 2000 Jacket: 'At the heart of this book is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but is a learned process brought into being out of an earlier hallucinatory mentality by cataclysm and catastrophe only 3000 years ago and still developing.' 
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Kuhn, Thomas S, Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity 1894-1912, University of Chicago Press 1987 Jacket: '[This book] traces the emergence of discontinuous physics during the early years of this century. Breaking with historiographic tradition, Kuhn maintains that, though clearly due to Max Planck, the concept of discontinuous energy change does not originate in his work. Instead it was introduced by physicists trying to understand the success of his brilliant new theory of black-body radiation.' 
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Lonergan, Bernard J F, Insight : A Study of Human Understanding (Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan : Volume 3), University of Toronto Press 1992 '... Bernard Lonergan's masterwork. Its aim is nothing less than insight into insight itself, an understanding of understanding' 
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Shannon, Claude, and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, University of Illinois Press 1949 'Before this there was no universal way of measuring the complexities of messages or the capabilities of circuits to transmit them. Shannon gave us a mathematical way . . . invaluable . . . to scientists and engineers the world over.' Scientific American 
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Wiener, Norbert, Cybernetics or control and communication in the animal and the machine, MIT Press 1996 The classic founding text of cybernetics. 
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Papers
Narashima, Roddam, "Essay Concepts: Divide, conquer and unify", Nature, 432, 7019, 16 December 2004, page 807. 'Werner Heisenberg said that Prandtl had "the ability to see the solution of equations without going through the calculations". Prandtl demurred, "No, I strive to form in my mind a thorough picture . . . the equations come only later when I believe I have understood . .. [and are] good means of proving my conclusions in a way that others can accept." His papers have a simplicity and directness born of supreme self-confidence. They do not trumpet their success or criticize others, but just get on with solving the central problems using all the tools available - observation (plenty of it), mathematics, calculation and modelling. Prandtl's methodological eclecticism set the style of fluid dynamics reseach in the twentieth century. No wonder G. I. Taylor called him 'our chief' and helped nominate Prandtl for the Nobel prize he never won.'. back
Links
Mind (National Association for Mental Health) 'Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress by: advancing the views, needs and ambitions of people wityh mental health problems; challenging discrimination and promoting inclusion; ... In all our work we promote our values: autonomy, equality, knowledge, participation and respect.' back
Claude E Shannon A Mathematical Theory of Communication 'The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point. Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities. These semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem. The significant aspect is that the actual message is one selected from a set of possible messages.' back
Computer network - Wikipedia Computer network - Wikipediathe free encyclopedia 'A computer network, or simply a network, is a collection of computers and network hardware interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information. . . . The best known computer network is the Internet. . . . Computer networking can be considered a branch of electrical engineering, telecommunications, computer science, information technology or computer engineering, since it relies upon the theoretical and practical application of the related disciplines.. back
David Chalmers Contemporary Philosophy of Mind: An Annotated Bibliography 'This is a bibliography of recent work in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of artificial intelligence, and on consciousness in the sciences. It consists of 5702 entries, and is divided into six parts, each of which is further divided by topic and subtopic.' back
Lex Newman Descartes Epistemology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) 'René Descartes (1596–1650) is widely regarded as the father of modern philosophy. His noteworthy contributions extend to mathematics and physics. This entry focuses on his philosophical contributions in the theory of knowledge. Specifically, the focus is on the epistemological project of Descartes' famous work, Meditations on First Philosophy. ' back
Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab 'The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has been an active entity at MIT in one form or another since at least 1959. Our goal is to understand the nature of intelligence and to engineer systems that exhibit intelligence. ... Our intellectual goal is to understand how the human mind works. We believe that vision, robotics, and language are the keys to understanding intelligence, and as such our laboratory is much more heavily biased in these directions than many other Artificial Intelligence laboratories.' back
Max Planck On the Law of Distribution of Energy in the Normal Spectrum Annalen der Physik, vol. 4, p. 553 ff (1901) 'The recent spectral measurements made by O. Lummer and E. Pringsheim1 and even more notable those by H. Rubens and F. Kurlbaum2 which together confirmed an earlier result obtained by H. Beckmann3 show that the law of energy distribution in the normal spectrum, first derived by W. Wien from molecular-kinetic considerations and later by me from the theory of electromagnetic radiation, is not valid generally.' back
Mind Association OUP Journals - Mind 'Mind has long been a leading journal in philosophy. For well over 100 years it has presented the best of cutting edge thought from epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of mind. Mind continues its tradition of excellence today.' back
Mondegreen - Wikipedia Mondegreen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. It most commonly is applied to a line in a poem or a lyric in a song. American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in her essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954' back
Network science - Wikipedia Network science - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Network science is an interdisciplinary academic field which studies complex networks such as telecommunication networks, computer networks, biological networks, cognitive and semantic networks, and social networks. The field draws on theories and methods including graph theory from mathematics, statistical mechanics from physics, data mining and information visualization from computer science, inferential modeling from statistics, and social structure from sociology. ' back
Robert Axelrod Evolution of Cooperation Website 'This archive contains materials connected with Robert Axelrod's book The Evolution of Cooperation, published by Basic Books in 1984. You are welcome to read or download any of the materials on these pages for unrestricted use.' back
Ulrich H Gerlach Linear Mathematics in Infinite Dimentions: Signals Boundary Value Problems and Special Functions 'Mathematics is the science of measurement, of establishing quantitative relationships between the properties of entities. . . . The effectiveness and the power of mathematics (and more generally of logic) in this regard arises from the most basic fact of nature: to be is to be something . . . Stated negatively: a thing cannot have and lack a property at the same time, or: in nature contradictions do not exist, a fact already identified by the father of logic some twenty-four centuries ago. Mathematics is based on this fact, and on the existence of a consciousness . . . capable of identifying it. Thus mathematics is neither intrinsic to nature (reality), apart from any relation to man's mind, nor is it based on a subjective creation of a man's consciousness detached from reality. Instead, mathematics furnishes us with a quantitative link that connects reality to our consciousness. Mathematics allows our consciousness to grasp, in numerical terms, the microcosmic world of subatomic particles, the macrocosmic world of the universe and everything in between.' back

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