No joy with finding Susan Blackmore’s Meme Machine last night so I guess I’ll have to order on-line. Did pick up Richard Dawkins (Blind Watchmaker) as well as Karl Popper (Life is all about solving problems), and some Richard Rorty by way of introduction.
I can see why Dawkins is so loved by so many – I think I completely identify with his views after reading 3 chapters (well after the first 3 paragraphs actually), so I don’t need much convincing. What is significant for my line of research is that right from the off it’s the complexity of the human brain that is at the heart of his awe and conviction (like Pinker). Most significantly is that whilst the brain’s complexity is ultimately built on the basic physical entities and principles underlying everything (dead or alive, designed, evolved or not), the purposeful power and capabilities are nevertheless emergent from the evolution of that complex assembly of the physical, not from some purposeful agent or process driving them. Got me thinking instantly again about the Mind v Matter physics debates, and the Quantum Entanglement / Non-locality stuff behind both new Quantum Computing research and development as well as the Mind-Matter Unification stuff from Brian Josephson drawing speculatively (and controversially, given his open-minded attitudes to the paranormal and homeopathy [Josephson] [Psybertron]) on the same quantum effects. See also Quantum Mind 2003.
I’ve blogged on every one of these people, subjects and initiatives before, but it continues to amaze me how many roads seem to lead me back to Quantum views of information. (Seb Pacquet has a blog dedicated to Quantum Computing – I presume Seb has also made the link between the “computing” and the information we think of as “knowledge” and I know that Seth Russell has a “conjugate” view of information defintion vs richness of content.) See also Centre for Quantum Computing (Cambridge and Oxford – Deutsch but not Josephson, natch) for the physical principles behind the new computing devices, and also this Los Alamos US government funded Quantum Information Science and Technology research site on QC / QIP.)
Also some good stuff in Dawkins on intution and timescales, that had me scribbling Kondratiev Waves (and Techo-Economic Paradigm Shifts) in the margins. Human experience of change in and through human generations just cannot explain intuitively what happens over evolutionary timescales – almost like we were “designed to misunderstand” evolution, by the process of evolution itself.
Ditto on managable spans of control in explaining or describing something complex – Like describing how a motor car engine works in terms five or six major sub-assemblies (despite the fact that we know they’re actually made out of gazillions of atoms or quarks or strings or whatever – just no value in it).
Ditto on an ontology of the world starting from essential natural, dead or alive and artefact viewpoint. Sounds familiar EPISTLE ?