IOU Philip Goff

I started my read / review of Philip Goff’s “Galileo’s Error” in my usual way, that is “nothing new under the sun” – gutting it to glean reinforcement for my own position – I already bought metaphysical pan-psychism(*) a long time ago – but based on a partial / skim read at that point.

Following that I have a much longer review drafted that followed the same theme, with plenty of new sources and quotes as I read to a conclusion. But that review is now on hold for a major re-write. I underestimated how good Goff’s contribution is.

IOU – (And no need to wait for me, go read it. Never did get round to publishing a further review.)

(Should add, I got a lot of hits on that previous Goff post.)


(*) My position is essentially a metaphysical pan-proto-psychism – a la Dennett. I’m guessing from Goff’s footnotes much closer to Sam Coleman (and Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory – IIT) in fact, both of which Goff contrasts with his own final (literal) panpsychist position, closer to Kastrup it would seem. But the differences (to me) remain basically linguistic. Why use the word consciousness for the fundamental (evidently “unconscious”) stuff?

It is definitely “orthodox” physical science, and its unholy alliance with popular “objective-evidence-based” humanism / rationalism / scepticism, that needs to learn the error of its Galilean ways. “Our very rationality is at stake” to quote myself. My differences with Goff boil down to choice of existing words in everyday use as far as I’m concerned.

Goff himself describes the many levels of “consciousness” from the fundaments of all reality to the mind of an intelligent being in increasing levels of complexity. We’re still really left with the classic “combination problem” so far as I can tell. For me accepting that the fundamentals comprise proto-consciousness-stoff (to use the Germanic style) that evolves in dynamic patterns through the many layers. The fundamental stoff is “experiencable” – potential experience, potential mind, potential everything in fact. Raw information whose patterns evolve inexorably through physics, chemistry and biology to conscious mind.

[Dennett to a T. With the qualitative fundamental nature, Pirsig to a T too. And, with this intrinsic nature from the inside, and what stuff does from the outside, we also have Whitehead and Smolin.]

Goff’s real novelty for me is the Russell-Eddington synthesis, which I mentioned previously, but for which I still clearly held anti-Russellian prejudice before reading more thoroughly. I owe this a proper review. Much better argued than Kastrup. Deeply affecting.

Goff’s Radical Dennett?

I’m reading Philip Goff’s “Galileo’s Error” as mentioned previously. As usual before reading the main content, I read all the intros and the end notes / bibliography / index / refs to see who’s work is mentioned, though I can never know whether positively or negatively at this point.

My favourite check is whether the author mentions Daniel Dennett and if so, whether their sole reference is to his 1991 “Consciousness Explained (Away)”. My pet hate being those who ignore ten books and 30 years of evolution in understanding. Goff passes that test. Dennett’s 2003 “Freedom Evolves” also gets a mention though that’s still almost 2 decades before his “From Bacteria to Bach and Back” (B2BnB). Creditably Goff’s first mention of Dennett is also based on a conference-meeting-in-person at the arctic cruise conference set up as a Dennett vs Chalmers contest mentioned here as “a few years” before 2017 when he said “lately he’d been gravitating toward pan-proto-psychism” (Seems to have been June 2014 if this equally interesting account is to be believed.)

Sadly Goff’s first mention – echoed in those linked reports – is that:

“Daniel Dennett is one of the most radical and uncompromising of materialist philosophers”

It’s a commonly held misconception. (Just like the idea that Dennett suggests consciousness and will are some epiphenomenal illusions – he does no such thing. Sam Harris has learned a lot from his dialogues with Dennett.)

Anyway, Dennett never really had any metaphysical claims, materialist or otherwise, he was always about evolving pragmatically what is known, from “here and now”. His target audience (bar the God vs Science detour) has always been the scientists of consciousness, and the evolution of scientific reasoning. Most of those scientists are surely materialist, but his journey is to show (has already shown) that is an untenable position.

As I said in the closing statement of my own review of Dennett’s B2BnB in 2017 (linked above), the need for science to relinquish this untenable position means that:

“Our very rationality is at stake.”

On a par with the logical positivists misunderstanding Wittgenstein’s message to Russell.

Anyway, this is only page 77 out of 217, so time for Goff to redeem himself and recognise Dennett’s evolutionary understanding aligns totally with modern pan-psychism. Dennett’s work is about the style of argument that will allow materialist scientist types evolve that kind of understanding.


[Tononi & IIT get positive mention, Kastrup doesn’t get a mention. Despite Kastrup’s literal pan-psychist claims he is really, like myself and Dennett, a pan-proto-psychist too. That proto-psychical (and proto-physical) stuff being information – in the active verbal sense, a la Whitehead) – nothing new under the sun again?]

[Reading on.]

[Good news, Goff confirms later in that same chapter:

That Dennett’s “illusory” views are qualified by “in a sense”.

That Dennett was persuaded the dualist view couldn’t be true, and therefore a physicalist metaphysics can’t be true (since mind & consciousness are real). But as I say apart from debating on the side of the scientists – an artificial argument – Dennett hasn’t been concerned with metaphysical claims anyway.

Therefore odd that Goff continues – after these 2014/2017 statements – with another 1991 quote from Dennett – re the “black & white Mary” thought experiment. We agree already. Consciousness (and rational understanding of it) evolves. Let’s move on, evolution waits for no man.]

[And a charitable reading of Goff on Dennett, this whole chapter is entitled “Can Physical Science Explain Consciousness?” If the best living philosopher there is, debating on the side of science, can’t get to “Yes”, then the answer is probably “No”. Like Wittgenstein with objective logic, I’ve always said Dennett, with orthodox scientific argumentation, the point was always to show the need for something else to explain the real world.]


[Post notes:

This Dec 2019 interview of Dennett by Louis Godbout includes an interesting passage where Dennett recalls being hit by physical / materialism way back when he was a grad student, but before finishing that sentence to talk about continuing to “crank the same handle” for the whole of his career, he switches to calling it “naturalism”. He has no metaphysical position materialist or otherwise – it’s all about the effects of natural processes.

Also great reference to the “coda” by Joshua Rothman in this New Yorker piece. Thinking evolves through interaction  with the world, aka dialogue. A piece I linked to and used in earlier talks – worth a read in its own right.

Also review of Goff by Baggini in the WSJ – disappointing on first read?

Never did follow-up the IOU for a fuller review of Goff.]

The Process Ontology of Whitehead’s Metaphysics

I’m beginning to realise that in the UK philosophical canon Whitehead took up the radical empirical monism I associate with James, Bergson, Northrop and Pirsig, and which is seeing a resurgence in those increasingly rejecting a material metaphysics underlying the physical world. New-realists like Smolin, the new-panpsychists like Kastrup, Tononi and the Integrated Information Theorists (and Philip Goff in his latest – Galileo’s Mistake – just ordered.) [This view of Whitehead came up most recently in this post and A J Owens comment thread beneath it.]

Personally, I bought a monist information realism a long time ago, and have my own evolutionary metaphysical ontology based on that, but let’s just try to do justice to Whitehead here and not get ahead of ourselves.

I rejected Whitehead initially, because of his mathematical associations with Russell and the fact Russell never really got Wittgenstein. Thanks to Goff and Mumford at Durham Uni I was prompted to revisit Russell’s metaphysical ruminations, as I am now doing with Whitehead (courtesy of long-term Psybertron commenter A J Owens). I went straight for his “Process and Reality” – his most developed metaphysical treatise and have not read his earlier more accessible writings first-hand.

Having read the whole of it and, as warned, finding the bulk of it hard-going linguistically, I keep coming back to the opening chapters, which lay his ontology bare, before he embarks on a tour-de-force comparative philosophology reviewing his ideas against those of Locke, Hume, Mill, Kant et al whilst acknowledging his drawing on James and Bergson.

In fact, I’ve read and re-read the opening chapters with increasing awe and a yellow highlighter about 4 or 5 times in the last couple of weeks of travel and hotels.

Long story short: Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism – is a process-based reality, since the fundamental notions are the events occasioned by the coming together of experience of one with another.

[All selective / paraphrase quotations below from the Process & Reality 1978 “corrected text” edition of the original 1929 transcript of his 1927/28 Gifford Lectures. Mainly Chapter II Section I and Chapter I respectively.]

The 4 Notions

N1 / E1 – Actual Occasions
N2 / E2 – Prehensions
N3 / E3 – Nexus
N4 – Ontological Principle

Actual Occasions – are the final real entities of which the world is made. These actual entities are drops of experience [ie this really is a radical empiricism].”

“Actual Occasions ‘happen’ through their Prehensions of each other, their ways of encountering each other, the concrete facts of relatedness. Each involvement or coming together is a Nexus, a public matter of fact.

“The Ontological Principle is that reason for things is found in the composite nature of these complex and interdependent entities. No entities, no reason.”

The 4 (Categories of) Categories

C1 – The Ultimate
C2 – Existence
C3 – Explanation
C4 – Obligations

The Ultimate: Creativity is the universal of universals. Creativity – the many enter into complex unity, each “one” being distinct – a novelty in relation to all others. [As in – one never steps in the same river twice.) One being the unity of many, the coming together – a “concrescence” – of novel togetherness. Each fact is more than its [Platonic] forms, each form participates throughout the world of facts. [The] individual fact is a creature and creativity is the ultimate behind all forms.

Existence – 8 Categories (!) of existence – Starting with the first 3 fundamental notions above, all else being derivative abstractions:

E4 – Subjective Forms or private matters of fact

E5 – Pure Potentials

E6 – Propositions or Impure Potentials

E7 – Pure Disjunctions or Multiplicities

E8 – Modes of Synthesis – Contrast and/or Compare in Prehension – an infinite progression of categories proceeding from contrasts to “contrasts of contrasts” an on indefinitely to higher order contrasts.

27 Categories (!) of Explanation

9 Categories (!) of Obligation

An infinite progression of methods of derivative abstraction … all of the above being my selective paraphrasing of (mainly) Chapter II only.

In terms of the duality in the contrast of mind and mentality with the physically real, Whitehead points out that his nexus of occasions in prehensions cover both – in the direction of public (outward, pure-prehension) or private (inward, subjective, impure-conceptual-prehension) attention through the nexus – and that the creativity of novelty, the ultimate distinction in every one is the root of causation and law-like tendency towards an outcome – an appetition.

Those first two and a half chapters are as good as any I’ve read on a radical empirical monism, of the kind Pirsigian fans of James should easily recognise. Like Smolin and the point views / events in space-time he terms Nads, Whitehead notes the generalised conception in Leibniz Monads, but pre-conceptual, could go either way, public & pure until made impure by private & subjective conception.

I have at least another 50 highlighted quotes from Chapter I – selectively paraphrased below – outlining his reasoning for “speculative” philosophy against the domination of the hard and “particular” sciences, his justification for daring to posit a radical empirical (monist, non-physical) metaphysics, barely a decade after collaborating with Russell on their Principia Mathematica.

[Whilst “particular” sciences show great successes within their own bounds …] “one aim of philosophy is to challenge the half-truths of scientific first-principles”

“The primary method of mathematics is deduction; the primary method of philosophy is descriptive generalisation. Under the influence of mathematics [and logic], deduction [and induction] have been foisted onto philosophy as its standard method [rather than] an auxiliary mode of verification.”

“Philosophy has been misled by mathematics; and even in mathematics the statement of ultimate logical principles is beset with difficulties” [see Russell and Whitehead … and Gödel?]

“After the initial basis of a rational life, with a civilised language, all productive thought has proceeded either by poetic insight or by imaginative elaboration of schemes of thought. Progress is always a transcendence of what is obvious. The distinction between [natural linguistic] phrases and [well-formed] propositions is one of the reasons the logicians’ rigid alternative, ‘true or false’, is so largely irrelevant for the pursuit of knowledge.” [see Wittgenstein]

“The combined influences of mathematics and religion which have so contributed to the rise of philosophy, have also had the effect of yoking it with static dogmatism.”

“The demand for an intellectual justification of brute experience has been the motive power in the advance European science. In this sense, scientific interest is only a variant form of religious interest. Any survey of the scientific devotion to ‘truth’ as an ideal will confirm this statement.”

The process of reality is nothing other than …
… the experiencing subject.

Wow, Whitehead was really onto it. Such a pity his language is so largely impenetrable; such a pity he never interacted with Wittgenstein or Gödel (* see comment below) ; and such a pity Russell’s public intellectual humanism came to dominate the English-language fundamentals of science and knowledge.

Also loving the second-[and-higher-]order classifications in the ontology – something not many get with their faith in a single comprehensive taxonomy of categories “to rule them all”. But I digress [see day job].

So, on to Philip Goff’s “Galileo’s Error” – Galileo is another whose apparent take on good science came to dominate the public imagination through the ongoing mythology of the triumph of science of over religion at the expense of enlightened philosophy. [See Alice Dreger and Arthur Koestler, previous links can be added.]

Panpsychist ideas scare the orthodox scientific, as do ideas of appetition or teleology / directed purpose, but they really should sit up and take notice of the sense being expressed by an increasing crowd of credible thinkers. [See another “Friends of Wisdom” correspondence thread with a knee-jerk rejection of even mentioning such ideas.]

Light at the end of this long dark tunnel, methinks.


Post note : Creatures (organic creations) creating – very much lines up with Deutsch & Marletto – constructor theory, and human evolution towards universal constructors.

Rushdie’s Windmills – All Too Real?

A strange month – more like 6 weeks – with only a single post, thanks to some new exciting work I’ve been getting into, and in which I will continue to be buried for some months if not years to come. I’ll share what I can – confidences permitting – on my business pages.

Last weekend, Sat and Sun I had hundreds of hits, 150 and 250 respectively,  on a single post from 2016 (with a 2018 update) – the title of which is a quote from Thomas Paine:

He Who Dares Not Offend Cannot Be Honest

Odd because so far as I can see it has nothing to do with the single post I did make last weekend – a continuation of my “deep dive” into idealism and pan-psychism.

Thing is, despite being too busy to read and post much, if anything, other than the odd social media interaction, I have used the travel and hotel time to read. Mainly Salman Rushdie’s latest “Quichotte”.

Now I’m a solid fan of Rushdie’s imagination and style, the obvious Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses, as well as the later Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Enchantress of Florence and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights not to mention the “fatwa” biographical Joseph Anton.

I mentioned already from the start and again over a third through – on twitter – that I was getting a strong sense of Neil Gaiman from the fantastic US road-trip narrative. But then it’s not the first time I’ve expressed this parallel, and it continues to the end. No bad thing.

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods felt like Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker and Long Dark Teatime) meets Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses and Two Years) – on several levels

Salman Rushdie’s Two Years  put me much in mind of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” and every bit as rich, and there is at least one direct reference.

Bulgakov’s “Master & Margarita” is seriously weird and compelling. Some cross between Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods but written in 1930’s Russia!

It helps of course to have your own experiences of the US, culture, cities and road-trips between them, but then US road-trips are probably engrained in our culture whether we’ve made them or just watched the movies. There are running “jokes” – every place mentioned with “Name”, “State Abbreviation” and “(Population)” from the smallest US boondocks drive-through to the greatest Asian cities, not least Mumbai of course, or Bombay as Rushdie and several of his author’s characters insist on still calling it – which is fine by me, they’re all phonetic anglicised spellings anyway.

Droll and knowingly witty throughout, the narrative actually builds quite slowly, and it took me several sessions to get engaged beyond my fascination with the continuing aura of American Gods.

But the confabulation of reality and fantasy builds to the very end, Life of Pi or maybe fake news anyone? And indeed, that is the point of reading what Rushdie has written. It’s a satire – or maybe an all too real parable – on the demise of any grip on reality in the world as we are coming to know it.

The story itself is a classic quest, more than one in fact with multiple levels of irony between author and characters in their own fictional narratives, but obsessive irrational questing in the manner of Melville and his semi-autobiographical Ishmael narrating his Ahab. And there is a good dose of Amor Vincit Omnia – both creative and destructive – to the very end.

There were cars on fire and broken Best Buy windows, revealing that the desire for meaningless destruction and free TV’s survived even the end of days.


The world no longer has any purpose, except that you should finish your book [who me?]. When you have done so, the stars will begin to go out.


Is that what you believe, that life is meaningless and we are turning into animals without morality?

[Yes] I think it is legitimate for a work of art made in the present time to say, we are being crippled by the culture we have made, by its most popular elements above all – and by stupidity and ignorance and bigotry.


There was news on the radio [in the] Chevvy Cruze, [that it] was being discontinued along with the Impala and the Volt as part of General Motors’ cost-cutting drive. [Me and mine again?]


What I hoped for is indeed beyond hope … all around me the whole human race was losing its reason, its capacity for ethics, its goodness, its soul. And it may be, I can’t say, that this deep failure brought down upon us the deeper failure of the cosmos.


Everything is so radical, so post-Einsteinian, we’re having to make up the physics as we go along.

Newton announced his theory of gravity before he’d done the math. He just knew he was right.

Harrowing stuff, disturbingly close to the apparent reality of our times. Rushdie has done it again. Essential reading.

Realism vs Idealism Saga Continues

Often cast in the physicalism vs pan-psychism sense, it’s an argument I’ve left long behind for my “information realism”.

Many reacting recently to Kastrup’s Idealism / Pan-psychism as the kind of stuff “only stoned hippies could contemplate as real”. Myself, I get why he’s contemplating (promoting) it, but it’s really just word-play in the end using “consciousness” where I would use “information.” ie although he’s using the word he’s not really saying the real / physical world is conscious, merely made of experience-stuff, more like experiencable stuff (ie real information).

That is the physical and the psychological are equally real, since they are both manifestations of the fact that fundamental reality is information, and both equally explicable – along with erstwhile conundrums (“hard-problems”) like free-will, subjectivity and mental agency – in terms of their evolution from there.

Several times before when writing on this (see links) A J Owens comments with quotes from Whitehead, to which I often respond “no doubt, nothing new under the sun”. I did spend some effort getting up to speed with Russell’s metaphysical take, so I guess I should do the same with Whitehead at some point.

Prompted today, by these two tweets, the first with a quote from Wallace:

And this response from Matthew Seagall (FootnotesToPlato):

With a link to this (draft) piece: “Physicalism and Its Discontents: A Study in Whitehead’s Panexperientialist Alternative

[Although not referred to in this piece, Seagall has written on Kastrup, and Pigliucci’s response, in a Whitehead context before. See links at the bottom. He does however refer to IIT(Tononi) and Dennett(B2BnB) and more, often mentioned here on Psybertron.]

Whiethead’s “radical empiricism” is kinda where I started, though for me it was Wm James “radical empiricism” as used by Pirsig – stuff experienced / experiencable immediately / diectly as an interaction in the world at a fundamentally real level prior to / independent of any mental abstraction or interpretation.

“a conception of experience as basic to Nature”
Whitehead quoted by Seagall

Also concluding:

“the panpsychist alternative is superior to physicalism’s eliminativism, epiphenomenalism, and emergentism”

No doubt, as I say, but it’s not necessary to go that far. We still have emergence and a kind of causal supervenience but both physics and psyche emerge from the experiencable stuff – information realism.

It’s the experience that’s basic to nature, not the consciousness of it or of itself.

[Leibnitz – see Smolin’s “nads”.]

Pan-experientialism better than Pan-psychism – I’ll say.
[Russell > Whitehead > Quine > Dennett … pedigree apparent]

[Wittgenstein – referring to Tractatus only, misses Witt’s joke at the expense of the logical positivists – misreading of “Whereof one cannot speak …”]

But I have no doubt this is true:

“Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism is a protest against the lifeless Nature imagined by Descartes, Galileo, and Newton, and a rejection of the narrow linguistic analysis and sterile logical positivism of his philosophical contemporaries. His is an attempt to make natural science philosophical again by asking whether physical causes and motions need be so violently segregated from the conscious reasons and emotions by which we apprehend them.”

No indeed, they surely don’t. And it’s as unfair on Descartes, Galileo and Newton, as it is on Wittgenstein – they each had their own projects of their day. With the first three it was about making space for God alongside their physics, since consciousness appeared God-given and God had to be given a place.

“He is perhaps best situated within the American pragmatist tradition stemming from Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey …”

“… in particular his genetic account of mutually sensitive prehensions is an attempt to make good on James’ psychological insight by building it out into a coherent cosmological scheme.”

Now that I can believe (see James ref above.)
Him, Pirsig, me & all. I like “prehensions” before “app” and “comp” – pre-conceptual experience, radical empiricism.

“He was influenced by the French philosopher Henri Bergson whom he credits along with William James and John Dewey in the preface to Process and Reality.” [Wikipedia]

[Interestingly Tononi in the list of refs, but not in the text.]

[Need to see a statement of “Whitehead’s process-ontology”- as I’ve said before, the fundamental nature of experiencable real world information, is a process view because it’s the interaction, the event, that is the experience of the real world. I’ve called it “relationalism” previously, before I settled on the atomic nads being “bits” of information.]


Post Note: Clearly just rough notes, not really a review of Seagall’s paper, simply sparked by it, but also previously:

Clearly that real entity vs conceptual object is in Whitehead too via the process of radical experience. Simply easier in French because they have distinct words for the different knowings – which may go a long way back – but clearly a lot of this goes back to James (US) & Bergson (Fr)  in the western canon. Whitehead is the Brit that most picked-up on it and influenced the rest of us, despite the dominant prevalence of the objective (and all the logical positivism that ensues) in present day scientific orthodoxy

“Bergson travelled to London in 1908 and met there with William James, the Harvard philosopher who was Bergson’s senior by seventeen years, and who was instrumental in calling the attention of the Anglo-American public to the work of the French professor. The two became great friends. James’s impression of Bergson is given in his Letters under date of 4 October 1908:

‘So modest and unpretending a man but such a genius intellectually! I have the strongest suspicions that the tendency which he has brought to a focus, will end by prevailing, and that the present epoch will be a sort of turning point in the history of philosophy.'”


A long, slow turning “point” it has turned-out to be (see scientistic orthodoxy) but just maybe we’re getting there. (James seems to be the nexus of the whole story?)

Life 3.0

Max Tegmark’s full title is …

“Life 3.0 – Being Human in the Age of AI”

… and I remain pretty sceptical about the AI-hype. Last mentioned Max’s book back in 2017, but already added a 2019 note to that just last month.

The book, as the Life 3.0 title suggests, is primarily about evolution and, as director of the “Future Life Institute”, he takes his layered model into futurism – predictions about the future. As I say, I’m sceptical about AI ever getting beyond automated algorithms until such time as “real” A-Life has also evolved, and I’m sceptical about predictions generally. However, his layered 1.0 / 2.0 / 3.0 model is based entirely on information patterns AND he has an entire chapter “Goals” on the cosmic teleology implied in the inevitability of the 2nd Law statistically favouring increasingly intelligent life.

This cosmic inevitability of intelligent life, human and beyond often attracts “anthropic” criticisms, but such criticisms are political, the political correctness of orthodox science that insists humanity ain’t that special. This was the life’s work of Rick Ryals about whom I posted a page only last week. Rick was primarily a physicist with cosmological interests, as is Tegmark though for him the mathematics is the real focus. He uses maths where I say “information”.

Actually, despite my scepticism, the whole book is a good read, well written and witty in his everyday examples. A red-pill / blue-pill matrix allusion in the idea of the AI singularity overtaking humanity, plenty of good thought experiments. As ever, I’m just gutting the book to satisfy my focus.

Given my anthropic-information / layered-evolution focus, Tegmark’s story seems entirely consistent. Encouraging to see Jeremy England referred to as a colleague at the FLI, since it was England’s work that Dan Brown referenced explicitly in “Origin”. In fact Tegmark could be as much a candidate as Ray Kurzweil for the protagonist in that work.

Everything really is hanging together increasingly consistently, reinforcing the impression that I need to shift my focus from reading to writing yet again.

Life Versus Entropy

Prompted to post this morning thanks to the click-bait statement “Schrödinger spread the misconception that life works against entropy” in this tweet:

In fact it’s a link to an Arxiv paper by Kate Jeffery and Carlo Rovelli, one which I’ve had bookmarked for a couple of weeks. I think Carlo shared it when it was published.

On the statistical mechanics of life: Schrödinger revisited

Along with Carlo Rovelli’s

Where Was Past Low Entropy?

My take is that Schrödinger is not misleading provided you make the distinction between local and global effects. Schrödinger is definitely worth revisiting in  order to understand, but he’s not wrong. In fact life’s “efficient” drive to replace entropy with order and excess energy (under local exploitation) is part of the drive in the global entropy increase of the cosmos. Clumping of material structures in vortices and galaxies (ie at all scales) is part of the same drive. Bacteria and mould in your compost heap. Local order, globally accelerated chaos. Life is “simply” the next stage after bio-chemistry has evolved from physics.

That statement is a summary of the position I arrived at thanks to Rick Ryals (who sadly passed away Dec 1st, 2018).

The drive is a kind of teleology, one that makes increasingly complex and intelligent life “inevitable” in an evolving cosmos, one evolving to its maximum entropy end according to the 2nd law.

I last mentioned this stuff only a week or so ago, in the footnote here “Who’s In Charge?” . Also I need to posthumously archive Rick Ryals “Entropic Anthropic Principle” material and have had Rick’s original 2006 “post” bookmarked recently whilst I cogitated.

‘So the second law of thermodynamics is never violated when the entropy of the universe always increases via the described perpetually inherent thermodynamic structuring, which enables the universe to continuously “evolve”.’

Also, this quote from the Rovelli / Jeffery paper:

[L]ife is not an improbable “fight against entropy” —as Erwin Schrödinger famously put it in his adventure into biology (Schrödinger 1944)— but is rather a statistically favored process directly driven by entropy growth, in which movement of a system within a space of available states leads it to discover —and traverse — channels between metastable states.

Absolutely – “a statistically favored process directly driven by entropy growth”. Life builds order and excess energy locally and temporarily, but is “driven” by overall long-run entropy growth. It’s “statistically favoured” – so is an inevitable part of the story.

Also significant, the concept of a continuously evolving universe. “Evolve” in scare quotes. Another current scientist who seems to get the structuring at all scales is Erik Verlinde, who also looks at entropy as the inverse of information, fundamentally limited in its density at the event-horizon of black holes. A topic on which Sabine Hossenfelder posted just last week, and dissed Darwin in the process!

That information density limit is the true quantum of fundamental physics. (See Smolin’s view-based realism.)

It’s all happening.