Open-Ended Intelligence

Weinbaum, D.R. (Weaver) . Doctoral Thesis . 2017

..an alternative metaphysics is proposed, on that is replaces the individual as the primary metaphysical element with individuation as a primary metaphysical process and consequently makes difference primal to identity. This paradigmatic shift, it is shown, is the key to going beyond representation and understanding thought and cognition as open-ended, creative processes of self-organization. These formative processes are of a universal scope and precede any kind of representable object, agency, or relation. Specifically they precede the subject-object dichotomy’ [p iii].

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Setting the stage

.. an unsupported thought, i.e. a thought which is nowhere supported, a thought unsupported by sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or mind-objects. ..’ [Excerpt from the Diamond Sutra, translated from Sanskrit by Edward Conze, p 1]. ‘.. nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution (Dobzhansky 1973). Following this line of thought, cognition and other mental activities are certainly no exception, they make sense only in the light of evolution’ [p 2]. Cognition is a fundamental concept that extends evolution and applies to general systems. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of natural computation, but I am beginning to think that cognition is better suited, because it a more complex concept that encompasses more, probably including computation, perhaps something like ‘computation of a rule in an environment based on perceptions’. But then again: if the thought is unsupported there is no environment, no perception and no rule (and hence only the computation is left). But If understood as the processing of information then computation sells short the aspect of newness of the unsupported thought. ‘There is an obvious and strange loop (Hofstadter, 2013) here: the cognitive thinking agent trying to make sense of these same sense-making processes that bring forth both her as a subject and the objects of her observation while these are being brought forth’ [p 2]. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of interpenetration / structural coupling. But that concept in my memory seems to relate to the orientation of the development of existing objects and not to becoming objects. But there also seems not to be an objection to equaling structural coupling and this, however it is called. Darwinism is packaged in a conventional story also. Dozhansky’s statement above can also be understood as: life is the medium that makes evolution possible. There is not much sense in a static concept of life but there is sense in a life that develops itself beyond its own limitations: ‘Evolution does not strip life and existence of meaning; it is, on the contrary, a prime facilitator of meaning and value’ [p 3]. An important argument of the narrative of Darwinism is the survival of the fittest; the argument here is that this has lead to (or at least reinforced) the propensity of people to think in terms of things instead of processes, being instead of becoming, identity instead of difference. Given that starting point it is difficult to see the life as the self-preserving process and as the self-overcoming open-ended evolutionary processes. The point of view here is that life does not have a single purpose, but many, not one goal but many, and a forteriori that these can in principle not be known in advance because they are subject to an ongoing process of becoming: ‘This is why life as such is open-ended’ [p 4]. Only openness and multiplicity can avoid the dialectical Aristotelian excluded middle. Thought must supposedly be supported from a priori given perceptual or conceptual but definite objects, and their relations. Assuming this then supported thought is only possible after distinctions and boundaries are put forth that identify the elementary objects and relations. Then a step in the research is required to get from bounded objects to boundary forming processes: ‘.. cognition .. designates a dynamic meeting point between the known and the unknown, between order and non-order, between sense and non-sense and between the formed, and therefore existing, and the unformed and therefore not yet existing’ [p 5]. The term ‘meeting point’ can be replaced with ‘event’ in the sense of ‘happening of significance’, an event of making sense. This is the primary actor on the stage so set. ‘As I initially stage cognition as an ‘event of significance’ involving both the formed and the not-yet formed, the known and the unknown, and involving at once both the formation and the dissolution of order, here is the proper point to note one of the most significant, if not the most significant, characteristics of complex phenomena, that is self-organization. In its deepest sense .. , an ‘event of significance’ is an event where organization becomes – comes into being – that is, where no thing of its kind was there before and no thing other than itself brought it forth, like a hand holding a pencil, drawing its own contour in the very moment of drawing’ (emphasis of the author) [p 7]. DPB: Escher. Ideas are considered immanent to configurations and systems and are considered not to presuppose transcendental thinking subject, and hence organization is immanent to actual systems and actual interactions. ‘A thinking subject is itself such an actual system with interactions and organization that allow thinking to take place. I go yet further and argue that systems in general, by the mere fact of being organized can be said to think the Idea(s) immanent in their organizationindependently of an observing subject’ [p 8]. Thinking and being are inseparable. DPB: this seems akin to Wolfram’s idea of computational processes in nature: every process is computation. ‘I wish to further claim that no organization makes sense other than as a self-organization – an organization that brings itself into being on account of the individual interactions it organizes or coheres into a whole’ [p 9]. DPB: ‘to cohere something’ is a verb! Nobody else will do your organizing for you, the neighbors can go but as far as to irritate you into organizing yourself in this way or that: every organization is autopoietic. No: the author believes that self-organization is metaphysical: it is symmetry breaking and it is a result of attractions and repulsions and as a consequence some possible states are more likely to follow the present one than others. In addition to that, feedback leads to self-organization. 

1.2 On the Method

Interdisciplinary research is difficult to ground in the traditional scientific organization and funding. Systems theory allows for a method that is useful and recognizable also in traditional scientific disciplines. However, it has been found to be overly abstract and difficult to nuance to the science at hand and hence, in the shape of systems science it has become tailored to the needs of various disciplines and integrated into them, losing its generality. And as a consequence systems theory has not fulfilled the promise to become a universal interdisciplinary science, dissolving boundaries between sciences. Important in this research is the breaking with the classical object-oriented ontology to adopt a broad view. This means a focus on the periphery instead of the middle, dissolve instead of establish and sharpen boundaries, not to abstract, generalize, reify, unificate, but instead to highlight the unique, diverse and concrete. ‘Broad observation seeks to find connections and relations not on the basis of similarity but rather on the basis of difference’ [p 13]. It does not leave the outliers out of sight, and it realizes that the regular can emerge because of the existence of the irregular. The vague and the incoherent are not the negation of the concrete and the coherent but as a phase preceding it and giving rise to it: ‘In short, broad observation is a perspective that tries to capture not only the product but the productive’ [p 14]. Its pursuit is to improve the focus of the observation, and to dissolve the boundaries between disciplines. The main elements of the method are: 1. reflexivity as a property that describes the relations between observers and systems, namely the role of the observer when constructing a system 2. confluence of philosophy and science: science originates in philosophy until it became a different paradigm: ‘The problem, it seems, .. deeper conceptual barriers in how general intelligence is understood. My investigation targeted at complex creative processes such as cognition, evolution and self-organization aims to find ways to overcome these barriers. It is here that I find the scientific method in its narrow positivist sense too limited. Where the nature of distinction-making is under investigation, and where the complex relations of observer-phenomena are considered, the conceptual ground of the scientific paradigm naturally comes under scrutiny, and particularly the apparent alienation that emerged between science and philosophy. This is why I found it reasonable if not necessary to develop my thinking as a ground of confluence where science and philosophy meet and dynamically redraw their boundaries and relations’ [p 15] 3. Affirmative reasoning: a manner by which forces or influences relate, interact or even engage in a struggle or conflict without resorting to the negative: ‘The interrelations between ideas can be readily understood in terms of forces because what is significant about ideas is their impact on other ideas, on the formation of concepts, on the development of lines of thought through the consecutive selection of other ideas, and of course on eventual actions. Affirmation therefore is the manner by which relations between ideas can be examined in terms of their differences and how such differences are asserted without exclusion or negation’ [p 16]. DPB: this reminds me of the relations within a memeplex and they can have different relations with different strengths and how they are not necessarily dialectic but can (come to) have every size and shape. In a dialectic approach the negation becomes part of the identity of the other. As a non-trivial example: the selection as a part of Darwinian evolution is an affirmative mechanism: there is no negation of that which is not selected. 4. Significance before truth: investigating thought requires reasoning, but reasoning concerns methods for thought. An a priori truth must be assumed that supplies criteria for the method of reasoning to make valid distinctions. ‘Formally, reasoning is a method of establishing the truth or falsity of propositions. But propositions or statements of fact, whether objective or subjective, are already products of some prior mental process. Moreover, how can the necessary criterion of truth be given or assumed to exist prior to thought itself?’ [p 17]. When investigating thought itself, these criteria can be be presupposed, nor even thought itself: the question is where to start if so little can be used. Affirmative reasoning provides a start because no criterion for truth is presupposed, its starting point assumes much less: ‘Instead, affirmative reasoning attempts to map the significance of an idea in relation to other ideas from multiple perspectives. Treating ideas as forces, influences or intensities allows them to be related and connected even before their truthfulness or falsity is determinable or relevant. Significance as a guide to reasoning that comes prior to truth and does not have to presuppose it is therefore found to be an important methodical aid in this research’ [p 17]. DPB: this reminds me of the just-so stories in the sense that nothing can be a priori excluded as an idea with validity. Its validity is however limited to that of the other ideas in its neighborhood in the eye of the beholder at that point: that is the significance of the idea. 5. Cross-discipline knowledge mobility: knowledge can be applied across disciplinary boundaries: context-independent learning. 6. Collaboration: a discussion between representatives from different scientific disciplines already provides the envisioned broad vision: enjoy the differences!

1.3 A short overview of the thesis

Part 1

In Search of the Origin of Thought

Chapter 2

The Image of Thought

2.1 What everyone knows…

How does thought begin. A beginning must imply a limit or a borderline between thought and something which preceded thought but is other than thought’ [p 25]. How does one bring into thought something that is not thought; how can this above limit be crossed, or what are the conditions for thought to arise? Can a world prior to thought even exist? If it exists only in the thinkers mind then that is a paradox, because the existence of a thought-free world is now conditions of thought and a thinker. DPB: but is it necessary an entire world that is required for this? Can’t it be that prior to thought there is merely information processing and that once it crosses a certain threshold its designation changes to thought (as a stage in the development of a strand of information)? Common sense is often invoked as ‘the image of thought’: thought as its own singular precondition (I think (therefore) I am): everyone is assumed to know what it means to think. This image has also become connected with morality: the nature of thinking is good, the thinker is of good will, the relation between thought and truth is positive. It is connected with evolution because reasoning reflects the pursuit of the organism to survive in its environment: had thought been a bad thing the thinker would not survive. But the reasoning for survival precedes any other kind of reasoning and thought. But is it aimed at existing, conservative, preferring stability over change, purpose rather than open-ended, the image of thought is a utilitarian argument, but for which there is no natural reason.

2.2 The Image of Thought

Thought in this sense is a mere representation of the real to the Self, or conversely: representation transcends the dichotomy mind-nature. We can only operationally work with representations: pure ideas and things-in-themselves are unreachable ideals and they do not exist in an operational sense: ‘In a certain sense the subject-object dichotomy is an artifact of representation: it is the representation itself which creates a distinction between ‘inside self’ and ‘outside world’ [Heylighen doctoral thesis 1990, p 27]. The mediating function of representation is a central feature of the image of thought: thinking as representation. ‘There is indeed a model, in effect: that of recognition. Recognition may be defined by the harmonious exercise of all the faculties upon a supposed same object: the same object may be seen, touched, remembered, imagined or conceived…An object is recognized, however, when one faculty locates it as identical to that of another, or rather when all the faculties together relate their given and relate themselves to a form of identity in the object. Recognition thus relies upon a subjective principle of collaboration of the faculties for ‘everybody’ – in other words, a common sense [….] it is the common sense become philosophical’ [Deleuze, 1994, p 133, p 27]. Common sense is used in the sense of the faculties concerted as well as what it means to think common to all thinkers. The underlying idea is that if thought does not lead to truth then how can distinctions be made, categories be formed, identities be established, and hence how could thought proceed at all?

2.3 Critique of the Image of Thought

What is wrong with the claim that, for anything to be, it must be capable of being recognized [through representation] (Williams, 2003, p. 120)?” [p 29]. Deleuze critiques that the image of thought can only constitute ‘an ideal orthodoxy’ and by that philosophy can not complete its program to break with doxa; he points at the weakness of recognition as a model of thought, namely its banality: Deleuze refuses to believe that when we are recognizing we are thinking: as if thought could have been an act of extrapolating from everyday facts and as if more compromising adventures should not be sought. DPB: If the choices are: there is some pattern to talk about, whether virtual or real, or there isn’t. The can thinking also not be defined as the recognition of the fact that there is a pattern, and to verify whether it is a known patten, and if it is known then to recollect its name, and if there is no name that belongs to it then to describe it, and if it cannot be described in known words then to find words to circumscribe what it is that struck the eye, or whatever the things that it wasn’t (well, I can say with certainty that at least it wasn’t milk) or other means to communicate it to others. Because if thinking cannot have anything to do with recognition, then all that can be left is that thinking is processing those phenomena that are without pattern at all. But that is not what a (thinking) brain is about, it is there to make sense of whatever there is in the environment. ‘This text distinguishes two kinds of things: those which do not disturb thought and (as Plato will later say) those which force us to think. The first are objects of recognition: thought and all its faculties may be fully employed therein, thought may busy itself thereby, but such employment and such activity have nothing to do with thinking. Thought is thereby filled with no more than an image of itself, one in which it recognizes itself the more it recognizes things: this is a finger, this a table, Good Morning Theaetetus (Deleuze, 1994, p. 138)’ [p 30]. DPB: I am sure of Deleuzes’ position here: he seems to be thinking of known stuff only, not of pattern in general. The core critique of an image of thought as representations is its supposition of identity; it supposes three kinds of stable identity: 1. identity of objects of the world 2. the identity of objects of thought (concepts and categories for representing the world or self-reflecting objects of thought) and 3. the identity of thinking subjects coordinating the various operations of representation (and 4. the representation operation is presupposed also). Now it is assumed that these stable relations exist between the objects of the world and objects of thought representing them and to operate in the same manner in all instances of representation for all thinking subjects whatsoever [p 30]. This is what Deleuze means when he says that thought is filled with an image of itself. ‘Identities are ultimately stable entities; they cannot be anything but themselves’ [p 31]. The excluded middle claims that an object cannot have and not have some property; identities are stable elements that ‘are given to logical reasoning and consistent linguistic manipulation. The model of recognition as the image of thought is confined only to such self-identical elements and excludes everything else’ [p 31]. DPB: if the system consists of a finite number of defined objects and logical relations then this is not an open-ended but a confined system. All change can only exist if it complies with the conditions of the system’s elements. The concept of difference is central in Deleuze’s metaphysical thought and it is pivotal in how he sees (the beginning of) thought; difference precedes identity. These differences are harbingers (voorbode) of the new and the new has the power of the beginning: ‘The new, with its power of beginning and beginning again, remains forever new, just as the established was always established from the outset, even if a certain amount of empirical time was necessary for this to be recognized. What becomes established with the new is precisely not the new. For the new – in other words, difference – calls forth forces in thought which are not the forces of recognition, today or tomorrow, but the powers of a completely other model, from an unrecognized and unrecognizable terra incognita. What forces does this new bring to bear upon thought, from what central bad nature and ill will does it spring, from what central ungrounding which strips thought of its ‘innateness’, and treats it every time as something which has not always existed, but begins, forced and under constraint?’ (Deleuze, 1994, p 136) [p 31]. DPB: but this is recognition in its strongest form, the simple recognition of a thing one has seen before or one can easily reassemble and I agree that that sells the concept of thought short. Can the concept of recognition not be treated as a way of waking up to something that might hold important information for the system’s future? I reckon Deleuze will generate the same outcome: that it is difference that generates the new and that thinking the new cannot be explained by regurgitating (even if logically) the existing. To recognize means here that the image of the thing must first be cleansed of aberration before it can be recognized; in that sense the image of thought is dogmatic and there there is no room for deviance. But: ‘It is easy to accept, almost intuitively given, that any representation is always partial and that any object, person, relation or state of affairs contains hidden potentials of change that are never captured by any of its representations’ [p 32].

2.4 Thought sans image

This is the concept as it was described by the diamond sutra. The destruction of the image of thought amounts to: 1. abandonment of the idea that each of the functions is fit for its function (they are involuntary adventures) and 2. giving up the idea that common sense integrates the operation of the various faculties into a single representation (this is a discordant and unharmonious activity). ‘Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed. [ .. ] It is not a quality but a sign. [..] It is not the given but that by which the given is given. It is therefore in a certain sense the imperceptible [insensible]. (Deleuze, 1994, pp. 139-40)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 34]. DPB: this reminds me of the signals in the autopoietic sense: they can only irritate the other persons exposed to it into a change. ‘The world, the object of thought and thinker are brought forth in thinking and there are no a priori categories that delineate what constitutes an ‘object’, a ‘world’ or a ‘thinker’. Thinking sans image is a pure becoming and, as will be further argued in chapter 6, all becoming is thinking. This is why the ‘encounter’ is, metaphysically speaking, fundamental’ [p 35]. DPB: as in my Logistical model, as the encounter occurs, the behavior and the meme are produced: the communication and the mind are damaged. DPB: people process information and it is called thinking. Firms process information and I don want to call that thinking because I want a good long distance between the processing of information by people that lends them their autonomy and the processing of information by firms that lends them theirs. The processing of information might in either case indeed be the same natural process and hence of the same order. But the audience is so much used to reading thinking as ‘thinking by people’ that it will not help the case of developing ideas of firms operating at a different scale such that their behavior develops independently of what interests the people associated with them.

Chapter 3

Thought and the Idea of Virtuality

The fundamental encounter is ‘the event of cognition that brings forth the recognizable products of thought as its products’ [p 37]. The ideas in this chapter are based on Bergson’s ideas about the virtual and the actual dimensions of thought: this sheds light on the concept of thought sans image and reframe thought from a cognitive-psychological process to a metaphysical process.

3.1 Bergson’s method of intuition

1. Relative knowing arises from the relation between an object of knowledge and a knowing agency. This is adopted by adopting a particular perspective on the object and it is therefore partial; this is associated with the image of thought as it starts from the idea of a separation between subject and object (Bergson: analysis). 2. Absolute knowing is acquired under circumstances where the subject and the object are not separated; no particular perspective is possible or required and the knowledge is absolute (Bergson: intuition): ‘By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects. To analyze, therefore, is to express a thing as a function of something other than itself (Bergson, 1946, pp. 7-8)’ [p 37-8]. This is very similar to the model of analysis shown earlier: ‘Analysis as a method of knowing facilitates all object-oriented mediated thinking, all conceptual thinking and by implication everything expressible in language’ [p 38]. Without language nothing gets done. Intuition finds its grounding in the way a person knows her state of consciousness: ‘It is true that no image can reproduce exactly the original feeling I have of the flow of my own conscious life. But it is not even necessary that I should attempt to render it. If a man is incapable of getting for himself the intuition of the constitutive duration of his own being, nothing will ever give it to him, concepts no more than images (Bergson, 1946, pp. 15-16). Heterogeneity, indivisibility (non-reduction) and mobility (“[I]n the human soul there are only processes.” (Bergson, 2001, p 131): these are the elements of thought prior to any representation or conceptualization. In other words, intuition by which one’s inner life captured transports us beyond the realm of representation and into the realm of thought sans image’ [p 38]. DPB: But hold on, this is about human thought alone! What about the ‘thinking’ processes in nature and in fact any process of becoming? Bergson treats intuition as a all encompassing method of knowing, but up to now it seems to be confined to the states of mind. How is ‘intellectual sympathy’ to be deployed beyond these the conscious states.

3.2 Bergson’s metaphysics

3.2.1 Bergson’s cognitive theory

Proposition 1. I-O model, where the rules lodged in the brain represent the interests of the body. Simple systems react automatically on the external impressions (automatically meaning governed by the rules of physics). Cognitively able bodies select which impressions they react to, namely the ones that serve their interests as they are represented by the rules in their brains. Those are selected by their perception, and hence the sole function of perception is action and it has no function to accumulate knowledge: ‘The brain appears to us to be an instrument of analysis in regard to the movement received and an instrument of selection[/determination] in regard to the action executed’ [p 40]. The fundamental difference between the simple bodies and the able bodies is that the latter experience a difference between the reception of an impression and the execution of the corresponding action, where an appropriate response is selected: perception and action are adaptively filtered: ‘Whatever belongs to action defines the present moment and is actual. Perception though being an aspect of action precedes action and in this sense is not actual’ (emphasis of the author) [p 40]. DPB: this reminds of Francis’ action ontology. 

Proposition 2. the agent’s memory is the whole of the gap between perception and action. This memory is its past experience. It is recruited (nice!) to participate in the formulation of action. This called recollection. DPB: the memory of a complex system is the configuration of its parts as a result of its past experience. That configuration and the properties of the parts and hence the relations between them, determine its memory and they determine what it is (identity) and they determine what is can do (domain of actions). I agree with No 2! ‘In other words, the whole of memory – the agent’s past – becomes actualized (i.e. involved in action) at every present moment’ (emphasis by the author) [p 41]. Perception and memory are intuitions: an unmediated rendering of matter and memory: ’It is indisputable that the basis of real, and so to speak instantaneous, intuition, on which our perception of the external world [matter in space] is developed, is a small matter compared with all that memory adds to it. Just because the recollection of earlier analogous intuitions is more useful than the [present] intuition [given in perception] itself, being bound up in memory with the whole series of subsequent events and capable thereby of throwing a better light on our decision, it supplants the real intuition of which the office is then merely we shall prove it later – to call up the recollection, to give it a body, to render it active and thereby actual’ (Bergson 1991, p. 66)’ [p 41]. DPB: this reminds me of computation in nature: there is no formal architecture to it, its design is its past experience, it is called upon by its immediate perception; and when called upon it associates ‘to the best of its knowledge’ with the patterns from the past it has in store and that it recognizes; this is how I have understood it from Spinoza. Perception is matter, recollection is memory.

3.2.2 Duration and Materiality

Bergson maintains that the memory is not encoded on the brain. Memory is the past per se; he terms it duration; it is independent of (spacebound) matter; the past is not a sequence of presents, but past as duration and present coexist, they are contemporaneous. DPB: I agree, the past is rewritten all the time, in fact at each perception, and hence it is as current as the present. Bergson argues that it must be contemporaneous else it could not be invoked to determine present action. A small fraction of duration is invoked at each perception and the other part of the iceberg is called a virtual state: not partaking in determining present action and therefore not actual. The virtual is formless, as in of unspecified form, without design, of infinite inseparable forms, indivisible and heterogeneous. This is how it works: ‘The images, episodes, and movie-like depictions as well as any other distinct mental formations such as concepts, structures, etc. that appear in one’s mind are extracts already bought from duration (the virtual dimension) into the actual dimension by the operation of recollection’ [p 42]. These are mental states occurring in the present. Just as perception is relevant material state in space, so recollection presents a relevant state of affairs in duration, memory dimension. Perception according to Bergson coordinates so seamless with recollection that it is impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends: ‘that makes the present act itself out and pass into the past. .. the present is not, it is pure becoming, while the past does not cease to be. It is, though it remains useless and inactive (Deleuze, 1991, p. 55)’ [p 43]. DPB: I agree. This is important also. Action is becoming, leading to the present: what is perceived and with the causally sterile virtual. ‘This progressive movement from the causally sterile virtual into the actual is termed becoming or actualization (determination of action DPB)’ [p 43]. Cognition in this sense is the fundamental encounter at the event of the virtual becoming actual; the synthesis of perception and recollection, of matter and memory, a metaphysical transformation immanent in every moment.

Notes

Bergson makes a distinction between recognition of objects and recognition of a pattern, namely a formative process involving the entire duration, bringing forth a mental object from a an unformed mental state. DPB: this last one is what is recognizing of an unknown (unfamiliar) pattern: this can be seen as ‘to make sense of’. 

3.3 The Features of Duration-Space Duality

How thing and states differ and how they compare to each other. All differences appear as differences in space (quantitative: more or less, extended bodies) or differences in duration (qualitative: kinds, unextended bodies). In the traditional approach this seemed a psychological-cognitive feature, but it goes deeper and quantitative and qualitative turn out to be extremes of the same metaphysical continuum.

3.3.1 Quantity and Space

A body can be said to be contained in another body, or a body can be said to contain more elements than another, and so their relation is determined by a difference of size. If physical space is the feature of the extensity of physical bodies then space itself is abstract; all spaces are particular cases of it; space can be filled with abstract bodies. Additional features: homogeneity, immobility, simultaneity, distinctiveness, divisibility, discrete multiplicities, and in addition: 1. ‘.. extended bodies in space are conceived by the mind as unities and multiplicities. .. It is the projection in space in thought that transports a body from intuition to analysis’ [pp. 47-8]. 2. ‘.. it is possible by means of symbolic representation to project into space and bring into quantitative relations aspects of the mind that are essentially not extended’ [p 48]. 3. ‘.. time in its conventional use is a measure and therefore is a spatial dimension with all the features mentioned above. Changes in mental states that are essentially qualitative can be projected into time and by that gain temporal extensity (e.g., yesterday I was sad, but today I am happy, it has been a trying period etc.) – the extent of the time they last’ [p 49].

3.3.2 Quality and Duration

Intensity concerns the unextended: it is the essential property of anything given in quality, the equivalent of extensity. It is assigned to mental states and it expresses the magnitude with which the state is experienced. According to Bergson a multiplicity of unextended bodies cannot be measured: qualitative changes (changes of intensity) form an independent metaphysical dimension, namely duration. This can be illustrated by two aspects of the movement of a body through space: the physical trajectory, and the sense of motion or mobility: ‘.. the successive positions of the moving body really do occupy space, but that the process by which it passes from one position to the other, a process which occupies duration and which has no reality except for a conscious spectator, eludes space. We have to do here not with an object, but with a progress: motion, in so far as it is a passage from one point to another, is a mental synthesis, a psychic and therefore unextended process. .. This is just the idea of motion which we form when we think of it by itself, when, so to speak, from motion we extract mobility. (Bergson, 2001, pp. 110-11)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 50]. What takes place in duration is synthesis in progress: mobility is grasped at once and it endures in one’s mind as an undivided mental state, while its nature is the change, not the distinct positions but the succession. Characteristic features of duration are: heterogeneity, mobility, succession, non-distinctiveness, indivisibility, qualitative multiplicities (interpenetrating heterogeneous states), no negation (duration is indivisible and hence it cannot contain negation). Duration is the past or memory, but it is not organized as a sequence of distinct causally related events: it is not history. History is a projection of immobilized moments in a spatial-like dimension of time. Duration represented as cone-shaped, where the tip is the present where duration together with the immediate perception actualizes the moment. The base of the cone represents all the past moments in their distinct form, without interpenetration. Between the tip and the base all these moments exist on an infinite number of planes but each with a different degree of interpenetration of the moments: each has a different degree of contraction or compression of states, images, episodes and events: a unity of duration or virtual coexistence. The entire cone is mobile and as the tip actualizes all the contemporaneous planes are affected. ‘It (duration) is no other than the incessant mobility of the virtual. Its heterogeneity is far from random disorder, but neither is it order as yet. Now one can better appreciate the significance of the idea of reality as a metaphysical meeting point between the virtual and the actual. This meeting point is an essential aspect of the event of cognition that brings forth image out of image-less, sense out of nonsense, and form out of formlessness, or in short, gives birth to concrete thought forms by crossing the apparent impasse between thought sans image and thought as representation’ [p 54].

3.3.3 Quality-Quantity, Duration-Space, Virtual-Actual

These are the facets of reality in the Bergson metaphysics, each a duality. Duration is added to space: a mobile, irreducible and qualitative dimension accessible only by intuition. These two dimensions permeate each other ongoing in consciousness: ‘Sometimes thought is flowing without image and more than anything else it is felt as pure qualitative movement. At other times it progresses in distinct consecutive steps, each immobilized, conceptualized and recognized and by that separated from all the rest. It all has to do with the degree by which the moments endure in each other, to which degree the past encroaches on the present and to what extent the present melts into the the past as it passes’ [p 55]. Quality emerges from sensations, ‘trillions of vibrations onto a receptive surface’, and hence it is contracted quantity. The notion of contracting allows to go beyond the duality quality-quantity and to pass from one to the other ongoing so as to dissolve the dualism.

3.4 A Metaphysics of Change and Self-Organization

Up to this point duration and the virtual presupposed a cognitively able agent. In this section this presupposition is further investigated so as to develop space and duration (from psychological states of perception and recollection) to metaphysical dimensions. Now Bergsonian thought can become a paradign of complexity thinking.

3.4.1 Extensity and Divisibility Revisited

But now suppose that this homogeneous space is not logically anterior, but posterior to material things and to the pure knowledge which we can have of them; suppose that extensity is prior to space; suppose that homogeneous space concerns our action and only our action, being like an infinitely fine network which we stretch beneath material continuity in order to render ourselves masters of it, to decompose it according to the plan of activities and our needs. Then, not only has our hypothesis the advantage of bringing us into harmony with science, which shows us each thing exercising an influence on all the others and, consequently, occupying, in a certain sense, the whole of the extended. [..] [I]f we suppose an extended continuum, and, in this continuum, the center of real action which is represented by our body, its activity will appear to illuminate all those parts of matter with which at each successive moment it can deal. The same needs, the same power of action, which have delimited our body in matter, will also carve out distinct bodies in the surrounding medium. {DPB: the structure of space is determined by the things in it: extensity is prior to space. Then space exists only for us to make sense of the universe, we defined it. This conforms to science, because it explains why everything exercises influences on everything else. If our body is at the center of action, then its activity illuminates everything it influences and everything that is influenced by it. Their actions will distinguish all the bodies in the medium. And continues:} Everything will happen as if we allowed to filter through us that action of external things which is real [i.e., applies to interactions with the rest of the universe], in order to arrest and retain that which is virtual: this virtual action of things upon our body and of our body upon things is our perception itself (Bergson, 1991, pp. 231-2)’ [pp. 56-7]. DPB: this reminds me of the idea that a body is essentially constituted (or designed) by its organization; and this claims that that organization results from the influence of the powers of the bodies in the environment. And hence that that organization is the virtual that is the memory of thís body as a consequence of thóse experiences. That memorized experience is perception. Extensity is metaphysical, divisibility and measurement is posterior to it: space belongs to representation. The metaphysical dimensions (continua) are extensity and intensity. They are similar but extensity is homogeneous and intensity is heterogeneous. ‘The actual is what is brought to action in material continuity where space as divisibility is only stretched by the mind beneath this material continuity in order to divide it and immobilize that which it has divided’ [p 57]. But why does extended matter appear to perception as distinct bodies? If the knowledge we gain is given by intuition then it is absolute and it cannot be conditioned by the perceiver. This is resolved as follows: 1. extensity captured by intuition is a virtual continuum (like duration it is undivided, indistinct and not yet formed) 2. perception is a process analogous to recollection: from a virtual extensity it brings into form (determines) only the aspects of materiality relevant to the actions of the cognitive agent: ‘In other words, it is the process of perception that conditions what initially is not’ [p 57]. DPB: this reminds me of the idea that recognition can also imply that a pattern is perceived without a name (for the time being unless it is not a dangerous pattern). 

3.4.2 Mobility First

Extensity and duration are extremes of one continuum. The other continuum in Bergsonian metaphysics is mobility; he criticizes the opposite namely essentialism (variation is an expression of what is invariable). But ‘Immobility arises from division and representation and is secondary. It is always preceded by mobility, but mobility is preceded by nothing. Static objects, ideas, concepts and relations are thus only superficial constructs. Underneath appearances, in their metaphysical nature, they are mobile’ [p 58]. The event of cognition is now not only the meeting point of the virtual and the actual, but also the meeting point of the mobile and the immobile. The virtual and the actual are mobile: immobilizing the virtual unrealized yet already recognized possibilities are conceived. The event of cognition is characterized by movement from mobile to immobile (and vv) and from virtual to actual (and vv).Mobility is the mark of thought sans image, unsupported thought.

3.4.3 Everything Endures

Duration – one’s own and others’ – as a dimension is accessible to intuition. Is it accessible for conscious agents alone, or for all bodies? The answer lies in the more complex hypothesis of metaphysical self-organization.

3.4.4 Metaphysical Self-organization

This answers the questions in which sense duration is metaphysical and how this theory brings forth distinct things from a continuum. The non-separation (or unity) of duration and extensity is assumed. 1. Self-organization: an inherent tendency engendering a productive process 2. A plurality of durations: when things separate and no longer permeate each other their duration separates also and diverges into a plurality of durations: a present passes into each actor’s ‘private’ duration 3. Degrees of duration and separation: a thing can endure to the extend that its duration can contract and dynamically interact with its actuality. As universal duration diverges the things that emerge do not entirely endure in each other but are not entirely separate: things reflect the whole of duration but to varying and limited extends, neither unity nor separation can be said to be absolute 4. Universal perception: the perception of a thing of some other thing singles out the possible modes of interaction between them: ‘Similar to how perception makes extended things more or less distinct for a cognitive agent in a manner that serves its tendencies, so all extended things perceive other such things as more or less distinct according to their own unique enduring tendencies. Universal perception is virtual. .. This can be read to mean that in pure perception (without the intervention of memory) the mind of the perceiver extends itself into the things being perceived. Touching the reality of an object from within by placing one’s mind in it, is what Bergson calls intellectual sympathy. Inn being perceived, therefore, extended material things partake in a mind, but the mind they partake in is not entirely theirs. The crucial point here is that at the instance of perception, this mind is not entirely the perceiver’s either; it is shared among all received things at that moment. Ultimately, the mind manifesting as intuition at every moment does not strictly belong to any single thing yet it partakes in all things perceived by each other’ (emphasis of the author) [pp. 64-5]. DPB: this reminds of the logistical model where the mind takes note of the communication as well as the communication takes note of the mind it deals with at that time. Interesting here is that the perceptions are connected and that a perception of one is added to the other and the universal perception, a kind of a bubble. Stable objects, states, relations arise because their interactions become limited, their repertoire of activities becomes mutually constrained [p 65]. DPB: this reminds of the structural coupling (Luhmann) and mutual orientation (Maturana and Varela). 5. Cognitively able embodied agents: living systems are only special cases in the continua: ‘Inasmuch as symbolic representation is available to such systems, it serves in both immobilizing the flow of actual activities and forming concrete memories out of a mobile duration. Cognitive agents endowed with such linguistic and concept forming capabilities as means of immobilization are therefore powerful catalysts of self-organization in that they bring forth a world of objects, states and relations’ [p 65]. 6. Beyond realism and idealism: realism presupposes observer-independent existence, but: the hypothesis of metaphysical self-organization states that: ‘under the condition of mobility and heterogeneity, everything observes and is being observed, everything perceives and is being perceived and consequently everything endures in everything else (to various degrees)’ [p 66]. idealism states that everything endures only as an immobile idea accessible only to a limited set of presupposed cognitively able agents, but: ‘ideas are always secondary products of fundamental mobility’ [p 66].

Summary

Metaphysical self-organization means that the metaphysical continuum spontaneously manifests objects, states ad relations with various degrees of mobility and immobility. This tendency engenders a productive process that brings forth objects, states and relations. This brings forth a 3-d kind of multiplicity (quantity/ space, quality/duration) that is discrete and qualitative. ‘All things, whether conscious or not, partake in a distributed mind (in the sense explained above) which is neither entirely unified, nor entirely plural, neither universal nor localized. This is virtual co-existence. The event of cognition and metaphysical self-organization are complementary descriptions. While the first term highlights a metaphysical meeting point (virtual-actual, mobile-immobile), the second term highlights its fundamental mobility and flow (“a living and therefore still moving eternity”)’[p 66].

Chapter 4: Deleuze’s Nomad Reality

The basis for this chapter is Deleuze’s work on the nature of reality, rooted in Bergsonian metaphysics. It is characterized by: 1. mobility and difference rather than stable entities (Bergson mobility, Deleuze nomad: introduction of the concepts of difference and repetition), 2. thought beyond the human condition (Bergson no, Deleuze yes, not assuming a thinking agent not the human way of thought) and 3. thinking as a process of creation rather than discovery of what exists (philosophical innovations). ‘The virtual is not opposed to the real but to the actual. .. Indeed, the virtual must be defined as strictly a part of the – as though the object had one part of itself in the virtual into which it plunged as though into an objective dimension’ (Deleuze, 1994, pp. 209-210)’ [p 68]. The virtual dimension to Deleuze is as real as the actual dimension. Bergsonian picture of the structure of duration was the (vague) description of the cone. Deleuze pictures the virtual’s structure detailed: differences, variations, relations of variations. The virtual dimension means what happens moment by moment, but it is causally sterile: ‘It is not the virtual aspect of an object that causes actual change, but rather actual change that selectively expresses (individuates) virtual tendencies. The actual dimension of reality is a universe of interconnected and interacting individuals affecting and being affected by each other. That reality is both actual and virtual means that difference and change are inherent in every aspect of it’ [p 68]. Stability and identity are only superficial, the real is always in flux, always different from itself, hence a nomad reality. ‘The virtual and the actual dimensions do not constitute a dualism; they incessantly penetrate, reconfigure and reflect each other’ [p 68]. This is Deleuze’s fundamental reality. 

4.1 Difference and Repetition

4.1.1 The Concept of Difference

In the traditional view the concept of difference in itself is understood as: separation, negation. In Deleuze’s view it is understood as radically connecting and confirming. Conventionally ‘difference in itself’ means that something is not the same as something already known or what sets two things apart in some aspect that are the same in other aspects. These are now differentiated and made distinct, but:’ Things that share nothing in common can hardly be said to differ in any sense. They are just incomparable. .., difference is a relation of exteriority between things that are laid out as partially or wholly distinct (but sharing some space where they are made comparable). More formally: the very notion of difference is bi-lateral: if A is different from B in some sense X, necessarily B is different from A in the same sense’ [p 69]. The ‘in itself’ of ‘difference in itself’ is a relation of interiority and does not presuppose anything. Duration means that all of the past endures in the present and the present passes its changes to all of the past: this is exactly this, that a relation of interior difference exists when something changes but endures in the change and is inseparable from it (emphasis of DPB) [p 69]. ‘Difference is this state in which determination takes the form of unilateral distinction (Deleuze, 1994, p 28)’ [p 70]. This difference as a unilateral determination follows from a struggle between a will to remain indistinct and a will to differ, and by that create. These wills are interior to each other and therefore inseparable. The part that cannot separate itself from the other part must be indistinguishable in itself and not only in relation to the recent determination: ‘It must not contain distinct separable parts’ [p 70]. A kind of a priori inherent mobility is a condition for this unilateral determination. This means that the ‘espousing part’ already has innumerable unilateral distinctions or differences in itself. The reasoning is this: if there is even one unilateral determination then determination is possible; But if it is possible, then it was always possible lest difference in itself would not exist, or it would originate in a mysterious cause that suddenly renders the impossible possible; but that mysterious cause would itself have to have a cause. Given that determination was always possible now all such differences must coexist at once: ‘Difference in itself, therefore, is inherently multiple where each difference implies a multiplicity of differences, each of which in turn implies another multiplicity ad infinitum. Since each difference is a unique determination (incomparable to any other), all multiplicities are also heterogeneous’ [p 70]. In this way difference is generative that unfolds infinite variety. ‘What we have at hand is a description of a vast plane of pure differences without anything concrete to be different from. There is some resemblance with Bergsonian virtual duration, it is barer and vaster: barer because difference in itself is neither qualitative nor extensive, vaster because Bergson’s duration is populated only with what has already happened in the past, while difference in itself involves determinations that never reached actualization. The logic of difference is to do with determination, the indeterminate is indifferent. Equivocal means that identity is metaphysical, univocal means that as far as things exist, they exist in the same sense: ‘There has only been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal (Deleuze 1994, p. 35). And he clarifies: “In effect, the essential in univocity is not that Being is said in a single and same sense, but that it is said, in a single and same sense, of all its individuating differences or intrinsic modalities. Being is the same for all these modalities, but these modalities are not the same. ..” (Deleuze, 1994, p. 37)’ [p 72]. The understanding of being is shifted from equivocal to univocal. Being includes individuating differences, but it does not provide an overarching unifying principle for them, and hence univocal being stands at the basis of multiplicity. ‘The individuating differences Deleuze mentions here are those unilateral determinations that eventually bring forth concrete forms out of the indifferent (though we do not know at this stage how). With this move of shifting from equivocal to univocal understanding, Deleuze effectively replaces identity with difference as primary metaphysical element and subordinates everything to difference’ [p 72]. The metaphysical structure is summarized as: ‘If individuation does not take place either by form or by matter, neither qualitatively nor extensionally, this is not only because it differs in kind but because it is already presupposed by the forms, matters and extensive parts (Deleuze, 1994, p. 38)’ [p 73]. Difference in itself as a field of individuation is virtual, it is not active and not a difference from anything actual or within a representation, but ‘It (individuation) exists as an element of pure change and its relations to the actual are yet to be clarified’ [p 73].

4.1.2 Repetition…Repetition…

Difference and repetition are the building blocks of Deleuze’s metaphysics. 

Passive synthesis – Repetition for itself

Traditionally the concept of generality derives from a resemblance between things; establishing resemblance means to define the identity from which they derive. Generality therefore derives from identity, where differences are secondary; repetition as generality means reappearance of the same but with insignificant differences; resemblance allows substitution. Repeating as per Deleuze is in relation to something unique, singular and irreplaceable; in conventional thinking resemblance between instances of repetition makes repetition matter, Deleuze focuses on the differences between the instances: ‘For there to be repetition, instances of the repetition must differ from each other (e.g. in place, time, or other details). Repetition therefore cannot be rooted in the identity of the terms. It is differences synthesized together and not the points of similarity that makes repetition matter (Williamson, 2003, chap. 2)’ [p 75]. The condition for repetition is not in the repeating instances because they have no a priori relation between them; repetition cannot take place within the instances, and as a consequence they are external and they must be for something; repetition must have a space or a background where it takes place; an instance of repetition appears and others endure (endure as do multiplicities). ‘It (passive synthesis) is a constitution of instances, singular and unique, into another instance that contains them. Within this new instance the composed instances hold a relation of interiority. It is only on account of their endurance within each other that repetition is said to be’ [p 75]. It is similar to how movement is a synthesis of consecutive locations in space. In repetition the instances are synthesized, they are passive because not external action is required, it is not for anything else, but for itself: it is its own background; as such passive synthesis constitutes time itself. 

Systems of Signs

Repetitions can be open-ended or enclosed within each other, they can consist of the repeating of a sequence of a sequence. Signs are products of passive synthesis; every instance of a sign is a unique individual: ‘There is no a priori principle of of resemblance to make the instances of a sign comparable. In other words, comparability is the effect of repetition and not its condition. Signs at any level participate in other syntheses, passive or active, and form complex hierarchical and recursive structures. Such structures compose actual reality’ [pp. 77-8]. DPB: all this revolves around the patterning and self-organization. Reality is constituted in the repetition of individual instances and how apparently stable behaviors (or even objects and their boundaries) are relations between repeating patterns of change. Recognition in representation is a repetition. 

Repetition and Difference

Repetition is based on the synthesis of different instances not derived from a prior identity; actual repetition always hides a virtual repetition. Difference in itself is intrinsically multiple, and hence difference in itself repeats. It repeats not for something external to it but for itself in itself; passive synthesis can clarify this inner repetition: differences as unilateral determinations are synthesized together to form compound differences; differences can be composed from an ordinal series of other differences preserving the unilateral property: ‘Every consecutive term in the sequence is a difference that determines something not yet determined in the previous term and as the sequence proceeds, each term endures in the following one’ [p 79]. ‘In summary: repetition and difference thus redefined provide the corner stones of a nomad reality that does not require any reference to identifiable metaphysical elements’ [p 80].

4.2 The Structure of the Virtual

Articulation of the structure of the virtual leads up to a description of the architecture of change, difference. Each determination in a series of differences (being a series of consecutive determinations) is a selective event: it introduces a reduction in the variety of determinations that can follow it; in this way it breaks the symmetry of the indifference (namely absolute disorder) preceding it, lest the indifferent remain indifferent and determination come from indifference. The effect of a determination must be to make a difference. 

4.2.1 Intensities

Bergson associates intensity with qualitative differences (opposed to quantitative differences). Deleuze constructs the virtual aspect of reality from metaphysical elements: ‘Even though such elements are immanent in the actual manifestations that express them, they remain entirely outside of the realm of sensible manifestation’ [p 81]. DPB: this reminds me of the existence of memes. They can become manifest when they assist the mind with thought processes (the expression is a (memory of a) thought) and they can also become manifest as a cultural expression (the expression is a church). A meme can be known by deriving it through the tracing it back from its expressions: the memory of a thought and the cultural expression respectively. But never are the memes themselves available to the senses. The way people’s thoughts are constructed is not observable to them and we can only guess after the meaning of a church building. Can both these manifestations be said to be recorded on a medium stigmergically: as a tool for thought is it recorded as memories of thoughts in human minds and as a church they are recorded in the physical environment of people (and other species). ‘For Deleuze both the extensive and the qualitative belong to the actual aspect of reality while intensive differences or intensities in short are virtual’ [p 81]. DPB: I find this confusing: my understanding is that the extensive is measured quantitatively and the intensive is measured qualitatively. But Bergson had already tried to reconcile the duality by using the concept of contractions in duration, Deleuze says: ‘Difference is a matter of degree only within the extensity in which it is explicated; it is a matter of kind only with regard to the quality which covers it within that extensity. Between the two [i.e. the difference in degree and difference in kind in actuality] are all the degrees of difference beneath the two [ in the virtual dimension beneath what is sensible] lies the entire nature of difference – in other words, the intensive. Differences of degree are only the lowest degree of difference , and differences in kind are the highest for of difference (Deleuze, 1994, p. 239)’ [p 82]. DPB: this makes sense. Now difference becomes metaphysical instead of a duality. Now intensity brings forth both extensity and quality, but this is not a ground for their unification; intensity is different in itself and it is not a place to answer these kinds of questions. ‘For Deleuze, intensity can initially be understood as a term reflecting the dramatization of difference. Every difference implies a certain differentiating force that operates within the indifferent and brings forth a determination – a departure from what is, a becoming. All change (difference) is related to power (intensity). All differences, therefore, are intensities. Inasmuch as difference is a virtual relation, so is intensity. The force implied in intensity is a power relation associated with difference. Intensities only interact with other intensities (similar to Nietzschean forces), creating complex configurations. As such they do not cause actual effects’ [p 82]. ‘Intensities are differences that affect other differences and introduce change within change’ [p 83]. DPB: this reminds me of amplification: the intensity is difference embodied, and it is difference in itself; the dramatization can be a form of amplification. The amplification is indeed an effect resulting from the interpenetration of the environment and intensity. Intensity is a relation between series that is bi-directional but not necessarily symmetrical: ‘.. the communication or correlation between the two series is already an effect because the series of second order differences is the one from which the two other originate and is ‘hidden’ beneath them’ [p 83]. DPB: some billiards ball has hit another and now there is a regularity, and if either of the balls hit another, there is more regularity. That primal regularity is the mother of the other regularities. Laying eyes on the others, one can ask where they come from and the answer is the first one, common to both. But this is a physical and concrete system with causal relations and the relations of intensities are non-causal, only difference to difference. ‘As we will see apparent causes are only secondary effects. The whole dynamics can be described in terms of relations of pure differences that are expressed by how the walking body and ground body affect and are being affected by each other. The resemblance and implied identity that can be derived in actuality all originate from a series of differences that precedes them’ [p 83]. DPB: first there is a difference and then there is action which will after the fact turn out to have had a cause. The significance of intensity is 1. organizing element concerning complex systems with differential relations and 2. as a mediating element between the virtual and the actual that is expressed by actual forces that bring forth extensive and qualitative changes; ‘.. inasmuch as differences are expressed by form, intensity is expressed by force. Actual intensities are driving actual processes of change and tend to cancel in the process’ [p 84]. DPB: expression of memes.

4.2.2 Multiplicities

Bergson identified the quantitative multiplicity to describe space and the qualitative multiplicity to describe duration. Deleuze sometimes refers to multiplicity as variety and it is similar to Bergson’s qualitative multiplicity, but Deleuze’s version is not qualitative: it is not sensed but pure difference. Difference in itself implies multiplicity. The ground from which differential determinations arise endures in them. ‘Through repetition differences develop into series of differences, each of such series is a multiplicity. Moreover, every single difference can also have an indefinitely fine structure of differences in itself. This gives rise to an indefinitely complex and interconnected architecture – a multiplicity of multiplicities. Multiplicities are fully interconnected and because of their interconnectedness, no part of the virtual is excluded or separate from any other part. In this sense the virtual as a vast multiplicity is a pure interiority; it has no exteriority but the actual. Consequently, the virtual does not give rise to relations of negation or opposition – it is purely affirmative’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 84]. Multiplicity replaces the metaphysics of Essences (essence as the element of identity is replaced with multiplicity as an element of difference) and Ideas (Deleuze claims that the virtual is the realm of ideas but redefined to mobile virtual multiplicities). 

4.2.3 Ideas in the Wild

How do progressive determinations bring about actual determinations. ‘Deleuze seeks for a structure which accounts for determinable differences to be determined while remaining indeterminate (Williams, 2003, pp. 138-140)’ [ p 86]. DPB: this riddle is the outcome of a nested function (or perhaps of the halting problem / Entscheidungsproblem). Ideas in the Deleuzian sense are synthesized from differences and relations between differences.

4.2.3.1 Ideas are Problems

Conventionally, to have an idea is to be able to represent it in terms of appropriate thought forms. For Deleuze, to have an Idea about something is to infer a problem to which that something is a solution’ [p 86]. Ideas have no identity, but are only a stage facilitating the activity of determination and its products (identities as specific solutions). DPB: is it possible that Deleuzes’ Ideas are some kind of meme?

4.2.3.2 Ideas are Multiplicities

Ideas are like differential equations as they draw relations not between variables, but between differentials of variables or differences. .. differences reciprocally determine each other in their relations but without ever having to actually determine final values to variables’ [p 87]. An idea is not a multiplicity as such but an n-dimensional system of variables with relations between the differential elements of these variables; three conditions on the emergence of an idea: 1. an idea is a virtual element without an a priori identity, 2. the elements of an idea are only reciprocally determined via their relations, and 3. a differential relation must be actualized in diverse relationships at the same time. The virtual underlies the actual aspect of reality and it is intrinsic to it. 

4.2.3.3 Singularities and Significance

As virtual constructs Ideas are never overt. They always hide beneath their manifestations and their structure can only be inferred from their manifestations’ [p 89]. DPB: If Deleuzes Ideas are not memes, then they are very similar, the what are they! Singularities are features of the relation between the differences that constitute an Idea. The features become prominent in the process of actualization to also substantiate in the actual systems. Differences can reciprocally determine each other and they can have some kind of behavior on some part of their domains, but if some other part of the domain is reached then they can exhibit some other behavior: the point of change of kind of relation of their behavior is defined as a singularity. This definition of Ideas as distributions of singularities at relative positions on a topological landscape affirms change &c. In this formulation the concept of an Idea can combine the concreteness of determination and the universality of indetermination: ‘On the one hand, Ideas are immanent in actual manifestations. If there are no manifestations, there is no way to conceive of an Idea. To conceive of an Idea is to bring it into being – to actualize and express it. Yet, Ideas remain universal because they can be expressed in an indefinite number of different ways. Actual expressions are solutions that point back to the problems (Ideas) they solve, but they never exhaust the problem’ [p 91]. This construction of Ideas replaces the Aristotelian essences in thought.

4.2.3.4 The Plane, Adjunct Fields, Assemblages

All Ideas in the virtual are interwoven together into a construct named the plane of consistency (Deleuze, Guattari, 1987; Parr, 2010). .. It (the word plane DPB) is rather understood under the principle of univocity, namely, that metaphysically speaking there are no hierarchies of being among Ideas, though there are structural hierarchies expressed in actuality. Every Idea can envelop or be enveloped in other Ideas in various configurations. The word consistency indicates that Ideas are interconnected and have no relations of contradiction or negativity among them’ (emphasis of the author) [p 92]. DPB: this reminds me of the landscape of Jobs, where memes influence minds and they influence Luhmannian communications. There is a plane of the mind and there is a plane off the communication and there are the memes in between them. In the concept of the Idea there is a plane of Ideas and it influences the mind and the communications. The adjunct fields of an Idea draw a contour as an associating network that influences how the actualization of the Idea takes place; it is one Idea and all the Ideas that connect to it. DPB: is this not a memeplex, is an example of this not the RC church? The virtual dimension of reality is internally fully connected and so all the Ideas can be said to participate in every state of affairs. Yet in actualization some Ideas are highlighted and others disappear from view, obscuring them. That process of highlighting and obscuring belongs to processes of observing, actualized processes. How this comes to be depends on the assemblages, the way individual people connect and interact and how th underlying Ideas are associated among them. DPB: that is my population and the thing they discuss the discourse or the memeplex.

4.3 Individuals – Nomad Structures

The subject of this section is the structure of the virtual aspect of reality: the virtual is pure structure, the actual is where the change is actualized. Individuals such as objects, concepts, thoughts, sensations, processes, organisms, relations are the elements of actual reality: ‘They are not beings but rather becomings; they exist not as what they are but as what they continually become – carriers of difference. Critically, individuals are the determinations and the expressions of Ideas’ [p 94]. DPB: interestingly my monads are an anagram of the letters of the word nomads; nomad is undoubtedly the more suitable word for the concept of a becoming entity, because monad is so laden with Leibnizian meaning (i.e. essentialism) that it can only be used with some possibly misplaced irony. Individuals are the expressions of Ideas: that I can imagine, given that the Idea is the resultant of the forces exerted on something (e.g. a meme), it can motivate someone to express itself in the shape of an individual. Individuals are the determinants of Ideas: individuals determine Ideas: what does this mean? Individuals form the environment for processes and so they provide the input to the I-O systems that they are and in that sense they determine the Ideas. For Deleuze individuals are not the derivatives of more general categories or hierarchies but bottom-up creations: small differences in the driving elements (gene frequencies in populations, temperature differences driving phase transitions, chemical gradients that drive embryonic development) form individuals. ‘Individuals are always expressions of the whole of the realm of Ideas. By highlighting certain Ideas and obscuring others, an individual manifests an asymmetry of expression, that is, an asymmetry in the clarity and the coherency of expression. This is how individuals acquire identity and manifest a unique perspective of each individual on the whole. The unique identity and asymmetric perspective of each individual always involves the assemblage it forms by interacting with other individuals’ [pp. 94-5]. DPB: an assemblage is the domain of interactions from autopoietic theory. On the landscape of activities it is the subset of those activities that the individual can engage in, its repertoire. ‘Expressing virtual intensities, individuals are intrinsically mobile (nomad) entities. The identity and perspective they manifest are fleeting and only apparent (in the sense of being secondary to the metaphysical element of difference). Individuals are inseparable from a process of individuation that brings them forth’ [p 95]. DPB: here are memes, nomads, and individuation in one context. Individuals are the loci of individuation.

Chapter 5: Individuation

Being>> Becoming, Identity>>Difference, Object>>Process, Individual>>Individuation. This chapter is about the genesis of individuals in a Deleuzian metaphysical system.

5.1 Simondon’s Theory of Individuation

5.1.1 Being and its Genesis

Simondon’s point of departure is a critique on two existing views on the reality of being. In the substantialist view there is no genesis and being is uncreated. The hylomorphic approach means that form is impressed on matter. Both assume a process of individuation prior to the existence of the individual and a complete individual is presupposed. Reverse engineering the concept of individuation from the starting point, it now needs a principle to attain the individual in the end. If there is a principle of individuation, it has to be the unfoldment of one individual into another. Simondon’s intention is to reverse the relation from individuals changing into their next version to: ‘The individual would then be grasped as a relative reality, a certain phase of being that supposes a preindividual reality, and that, even after individuation, does not exist on its own, because individuation does not exhaust with one stroke the potentials of preindividual reality (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ [p 98]. The conditions for a process of individuation to precede any individual are: 1. there is a preindividual reality or a field of individuation which is not preceded by any individual 2. individuation does not stop and 3. (as per Deleuze’s unilateral determinations) Simondon argues that individuation cannot bring forth individuals in a vacuum and instead produce a partitioned existence of individual and background. To fulfill these condtions a new metaphysical systems is required where no individuation is already encoded (does this mean presupposed?).

5.1.2 Being and Becoming

Simondon’s innovation is that individuation takes place within being: ‘It designates a becoming within being – not a specific becoming but the becoming of being as such. .. “Individuation is thus considered as the only ontogenesis, insofar as it is an operation of the complete being. Individuation must therefore be considered as a partial and relative resolution that occurs in a system that contains potentials and encloses a certain incompatibility in relation to itself – an incompatibility made of forces of tension as well as of the impossibility of an interaction between the extreme terms of the dimensions (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 98]. DPB: this reminds me of the argument of ‘l’englobement du contraire’ of Luhmann: the distinction is made in the thing in itself, in this case the being ‘englobes’ the becoming. Also it reminds me of the balancing between attractors and repellers that are the results of the forces and incompatibilities between different dimensions within the system. 

5.1.3 The Process of Individuation

Individuation is a process that brings forth individuals. DPB: and so logically it can only be known afterwards whether something was a process of individuation or another kind of a process? Simondon borrows the framework of dynamic systems theory, namely far from equilibrium systems. Individuation is a result from tensions in the system in problematic situations. DPB: this reminds of the situation where there is damage to the system, namely a radical change in the environment – outside of the domain of interactions of the system – causing a dramatic change internal to it. The text says: ‘The problematic situation, that is, any situation where incompatibilities between elements invite resolution through change, is the model ground for individuating processes’ [p 100]. DPB: the difference between this quote and my interpretation is that the source of the trouble in my view is injected from outside elements and in the quote the origin is in the elements of the system, internal to it. This reminds me of the Spinozian discussions that there is no source of change within anyone, it is always from outside the person. There is no a priori principle along which individuation takes place: if so it must be the bringing forth of a principle of individuation for application in specific situations is what it does.

5.1.3.1 Metastability

Being is metastable and not stable. It contains a transformative potential that is actualized in a continuous process of individuation. Individuating of systems occurs through interactions between systems and environment. But it is a metaphysical element included in being, and hence Simondon includes in the individuating being both the individual and its environment. ‘The metastable being is not determined a priori but rather individuates along with its structures in a sequence of transitions. Metastability does therefore not mean multiple points of stability, but rather a developing topographic configuration of such points. Clearly, this description resonates with Deleuzes’ description of Ideas’ [p 102]. DPB: this has to do with the affect of singularities on the shape of the topological landscape. ‘Relations, for Simondon, individuate as an intrinsic part of being and are not considered to exist outside of being or between things. .. intensities in the Deleuzian scheme seem to be the virtual counterpart to Simondon’s individuating relations’ [p 102].

5.1.3.2 Transduction

This is the term Simondon uses for the process of individuation; the concept is similar to the concept of the process self-organization; the difference is that self-organization describes convergence of trajectories towards attractors in a configured state-space of a system, while transduction does not assume such a priori configuration. Self-organization is relevant in the light of its product (final state), organization. ‘By transduction we mean an operation – physical, biological, mental, social – by which an activity propagates itself from one element to the next, within a given domain, and founds this propagation on a structuration of the domain that is realized from place to place: each area of the constituted structure serves as the principle and the model for the next area, as a primer for its constitution, to the extent that the modification expands progressively at the same time as the structuring operation’ (Simondon, 2009, p. 11)’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 103]. DPB: this is at the core, the crux: it is the propagation of a structure AND of an activity, or perhaps the other way around, as the structure must be in place to enable the propagation of the activity to take place; this interplay between structure and operation is also the innovation. But how is this different from my earlier understanding of individuation? That, I guess, was still founded on objects, namely the selection of some objects out of a multitude over others. This was in my perception driven by attractors and repellers such that a structure would appear. The selection would be based on their apparent behavior which was more suitable in those circumstances than other kinds of behavior. Transduction says that at some state there is a particular probability distribution for the configuration goes to some next state; that is so because of the possible operations it can perform in that present state. At that new state the configuration has changed and the operations it can do now are different from those at the former state and can be represented in some new probability distribution for the state after that. When it moves to the next state the configuration will again have changed &c. All this reminds me of natural computation: at every state the configuration changes and the possible computations the new system can do will have changed: some state will become much more likely and others will be limited or impossible to reach. As a consequence the configuration will tend to some and move away from other species of states. But in addition transduction moves from area to area within the system (in Dutch this concept is referred to with the verb ‘olievlekken’): ‘Each structure in the series constrains the operations that can immediately follow. Each operation constrains the transformation of the current structure into a new one’ [p 103]. I guess that this ‘olievlek’ mechanism can be explained using autopoietic orientation: when the neighboring system presently starts to show behavior strictly limited to some specific domain of interactions, it is not possible for an agent to any longer to exhibit behavior towards that neighbor that is outside of that domain, lest the communication stops. Each intermediary state is a partial resolution for the release of the internal tensions but drives the system away from stability as other tensions are not yet released or newly introduced. But this process can be represented as an I-O rule system, where the rules are rewritten as the system operates. ‘The progress of transduction circumvents the need for an overarching principle of individuation in that each transition is in fact a local determination that need not depend on structures or operations beyond the immediate one’ [p 104]. DPB: but bear in mind that these local determinations emerge as autonomous behavior of the system, namely a firm. This is at the heart of my attempt to explain things using natural computation and game theory and information processing and cultural computation &c. In addition it is completely ‘just-so’: every snippet of information that sounds appealing to the rest of the memeplex can and will be used (against you). 

5.1.3.3 Information

Simondon’s understanding of information is different from Shannon’s reproduction of messages between sender and receiver: ‘Information has to do with relations, but with formative relations and not with already formed ones. Information is a process of establishing communication where initially there is none: “.. it is the signification that will emerge when an operation of individuation will discover the dimension according to which two disparate realities may become a system. […] [Information] is that by which the incompatibility of the non-resolved system becomes an organizing dimension in the resolution; […] “(Simondon, 2009, pp. 9-10). .. Communication is established in the individuation of signification – the means of exchanging meaning’ (emphasis of the author) [p 104]. DPB: Information is a Process! The significations and the manner in which they are carried among the individuated elements of the system (body gestures, chemical reactions, utterances &c) are inseparable. DPB: I agree because it is not generally understood by a Dutch host when, however well intended, a Chinese person burps a compliment for the supper served to her and a measure of offense might even be taken; however, when expressed verbally the compliment stands a much better chance of being appreciated by the Dutch host. Conversely the Chinese person might take offense when the Dutch host debits her vision on humanitarian issues even when expressed verbally. Language in this sense is not a message passing protocol but an individuating medium: ‘Language is an individuating process, not because it facilitates communication using already individuated messages, but primarily because it establishes communication in situations of incompatibility and disparateness. This is done by continually individuating signification within language’ [p 105]. DPB: this means the redistribution of meaning to utterances, deframing and reframing of meaning as per Luhmann.

5.1.3.4 Levels of Individuation

5.2 Deleuze’s Synthesis of the Sensible

In Deleuzian metaphysics individuation must explain how virtual differences account for actual processes and events. It must explain how the world of actual individuals corresponds with the virtual world of Ideas. The difficulty is that the virtual aspect of reality is pure structure and hence static, and causally sterile. Virtual existence is atemporal and Deleuze’s individuation extends between the temporal and the atemporal: time itself individuates. But the actual is fully conditioned by the virtual.

5.2.1 Transcendental versus Causal Explanations

Logically causal relations are necessary but not sufficient: in practical terms they explain a habit or a repetition for Y to be exist because of the existence of X, but in fact the causes are indefinite. They do not explain anything creative, unique or irregular. Deleuze does not subscribe to causal relations, but instead finds the sufficient reason for everything that actually exists in its corresponding virtual aspect (namely in the intensive differences). DPB: this reminds me of Rodin‘s testament: once the (Deleuzian) Idea exists, then, apart from the particular practicalities of its production, the expression that corresponds to the (Deleuzian) Idea also exists. I find it difficult to remember how the Deleuzian virtual is distinct from the Bergsonian. ‘.. the elements of the actual are individuals, each unique and singular. Individuals cannot be caused in the conventional sense because they are never the same, while the principle of causation is grounded in the repetition of the same (habits). A causative explanation, therefore, cannot be based on singular cases. Since individuals are always different, they cannot causally explain one another. This is why if we consider an actuality made of individuals, causative explanations are necessarily mere superficial generalizations achieved only by averaging differences out and positing sameness prior to repetition’ [p 106]. DPB: this explains why the state of the art is that causal relations cannot explain anything new, and hence that determinism does not explain anything new. Intensive differences are the sufficient reason for the actual, but the virtual does not cause the actual either: ‘Actual individuals are expressionsof virtual differences immanent in them. Virtual differences can never be sensed directly, they can only be expressed’ (emphasis of the author) [p 107]. DPB: Ideas are omnipresent and memes are a special case of them. Reality has dimensions of exteriority (actual) and interiority (virtual). Expression is the exteriority of things, the way they appear, how they affect, and are affected by, other things. Virtual Ideas belong to the interiority of things, their ‘in itself’ dimension: ‘In this sense, expression is nothing but the exteriorization of interiority’ [p 107]. DPB: the basis for the logistical model. To explain the actual in terms of expression renders it transcendental because the sufficient reason for everything now is not directly accessible. ‘Everything experienced, sensed and observed is never entirely what it is. It is merely an expression of something which has indefinitely many other expressions depending on circumstances. Expressions are intrinsically incomplete and impermanent, being the fabric of nomad reality. In other words, individuals possess depth – a virtual depth of what they can become. It is indeed the Idea that determines what the body can do, but the Idea is inexhaustible in terms of its manners of expression. In this sense existence is open-ended; things have an inexhaustible and largely unpredictable variety of expressions depending on their interactions. They can mean very different things under different circumstances’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 109]. DPB: this reminds of Luhmannian deframing and reframing constructivism (?).

5.2.2 The Synthesis of the Sensible

Deleuze hypothesizes a connection between thought and the genesis taking place between the virtual and the actual aspects of reality. The meaning of thought is a metaphysical event beyond the human condition. ‘The sensible or that which is given to sensation is the counterpart of expression. If the expression of X is how it can affect other actualities, the sensibility of X is how it can be affected by other actualities. Expression is therefore the sensible for the other (not for itself). The whole schema of individuation can be concisely and elegantly put as follows: “The real individual is set in motion by sensation, expresses Ideas, falls into actual identity. It is a take on the whole of Ideas, bringing some into greater clarity, throwing others into obscurity. The real individual is driven by sensations that signify a reconfiguration of intensities, a change in which intensities envelop others and which are enveloped (DPB: the terms of the enveloping series are contracted into the enveloping series). It is the site of creation, movement in Ideas and a reconfiguration of intensities expressed in the destruction of the identity of an actual thing and the formation of new identities“ (Williams, 2003, p. 185)’ [pp. 109-10]. Sensations move individuals to express certain Ideas. DPB: this is close to SSP and to my Logistical model where people are motivated to give expression to their ideas by external signals and based on their ‘rule set’; that must then logically be the virtual. Ideas are expressed that from time to time gain identity by becoming temporarily stable. 

5.3 Metaphysical Self-Organization Revisited

Assuming ontogenesis instead of ontology (process instead of object) an hypothesis is needed to explain the existence of identities, as they are no longer metaphysically explained. In a mobile reality all objects are impermanent because the processes that produce them never cease, and hence the question is relevant why there is order at all: disorder>>order>>disorder. DPB: this reminds me of my section on disorder and how it is produced and what it means to have order from disorder. Organization does not have its own sufficient reasons; it has to come from the fundamental mobile reality it presupposes: ‘Self-organization therefore is the feature of chaos (or indifference) that precedes organization and not organization itself. In its metaphysical sense, self-organization comes only to clarify that there is no element or principle transcendent to reality that imposes organization (e.g. a godly principle). It is reality that organizes, in itself and for itself’ [p 114]. DPB: this reminds me of the difficulty to generate really random numbers: real randomness is hard to come by. It further reminds me of the figure Zeus in the dialogues: he can see others only if they are organized. If they are not organized and they are random, they have no identity distinguishing them from their background and Zeus cannot see them. If they are organized and they are not random then Zeus can see them. But if he names them then he sees them even if they are random. Deleuze’s schema for stable structures is that the formula for determination claims indifference to be determinable and how differences as events of unilateral determination bring forth structure expressed in actual stable organizations. But for difference to be a sufficient reason for stability and the emergence of identities repetition (and orders of repetition) are required. ‘Ideas as multiplicities bring forth in their individuation a multiplicity of unique individuals. The internal repetition in the Idea (its multiple nature) is expressed in the external repetition of individuals and forms populations of individuals (see 8.1 ahead)’ [p 114-5]. DPB: this is a description of the variation in the instances of a meme, analogous to the multiplicity of the instances of similar organisms in a population is said to be their species, and given that the concept of a meme can be the same as the concept of an Idea. It is not (yet) equal to the description of a memeplex. Individuation of the virtual brings about order because it is a symmetry breaking event, expressing some Ideas while obscuring others. It is therefore a creative and destructive process. ‘As already hinted, self-organization in the metaphysical sense is responsible for space, time, all the sensible qualities and of course natural laws’ [p 115]. Many of these appear to be eternal invariants but none of them can be proven to be. Conventionally self-organization is understood as attractors as self-identical states in the systems dynamics and the reduction of the of the system’s degrees of freedom as it self-organizes: ‘Instead, self-organization, as the ontogenetic process it is, and as a process of progressive determination, is not necessarily characterized by movement towards stability, invariance and identity. Such movements are merely passing phases’ [p 116]. DPB: but an attractor can be the expression of the behavior of the elements of the system, no?! 

5.4 Conclusing Notes on Deleuze’s metaphysics

5.4.1 Every Thing Thinks

Every body, every thing, thinks and is a thought to the extent that, reduced to its intensive reasons, it expresses an Idea the actualization of which it determines (emphasis of Weaver). However, the thinker himself makes his individual differences from all manner of things: it is in this sense that he is laden with stones and diamonds, plants’ and even animals’[i.e., all the Ideas it connects to but are obscured in the immediate expression]. The thinker, undoubtedly the thinker of eternal return, is the individual, the universal individual.”(Deleuze, 1994, p. 254)’ [p 116-7]. DPB: this is the clearest explanation so far of thinking as a process I have been calling natural computation. Ideas are a more general form of memes, in that Ideas are the basis for everything and memes only for human thought.

5.4.2. The event of cognition

Assuming that thinking is a foundational formative process driven by intensities, then the meaning of cognition changes also. Recognition is related to the image of thought and is a process of discovery but cognition is related to thought sans image and is related to creation. ‘Thought and cognition in the very broad sense presented here are almost synonymous and interchangeable. Thought extends far beyond what we conventionally consider mental activity taking place in brains. Cognition does not involve specific sensory faculties, only interaction and affect (the sensible)’ [p 117]. DPB: lovely, this means that I could change computation (this is too close to computational science suggesting an overly mechanical approach) for thought but also thought (this is too etymologically entwined with human brain activity) for cognition. Simple systems can be characterized by their relations of exteriority, with little interiority, their Ideas are distinct, they can be easily decomposed in their components, they tend to stability. Complex systems are characterized by their relations of exteriority but their relations of interiority too (which can only be inferred), their Ideas are less distinct and they can only be decomposed into their components with more effort, because their past endures in them, they do not tend to stability. For simple systems thought and cognition are the same thing. For complex systems it makes sense to make this distinction: ‘.. to separate the regime of more or less immediate interactions from another, interior and only implicit regime of ongoing transformation. When we represent a system we exteriorize it and by applying symbolic representation to its interiority it becomes simultaneously more simplified and accessible and less realistic. Representation turns thought from productive to cognition and from nomadic to sedentary. Notably, it might be a matter of a single interaction with an additional element that may turn a simple system into a complex one and vice versa. In summary, from a metaphysical perspective, the differentiation between thought and cognition carries no consequence and is therefore context dependent’ [p 118]. DPB: hmmm what to make of that. I better ask Weaver first.

5.4.3 Influence on human thought

Chapter 6: From Difference to Thought

Any metaphysical investigation cannot be validated. This statement makes sense if a truth or a plausibility value can be assigned to the outcome. But truth is hardly the point because a metaphysical hypothesis sets out to enhance the knowledge of reality. A metaphysical set of axioma’s influences one’s thought and experiences, and hence one’s interactions with their environment. The value of such theory is to allow one to think about reality in novel ways. A core belief of the author is that as living beings, our encounter with reality is experimental, and in the same vein philosophy and metaphysics are thought experiments. In the theory presented here the very notion of truth undergoes individuation – the idea that truth precedes its discovery is rooted in identity based metaphysics. ‘It [this theory] need only make enough sense (i.e., to be disturbing enough) as to introduce a minute shift – a difference from that which is obvious and given in conventional thinking’ [p 122]. DPB: this reminds me of Marta saying that if it has a name it is probably dangerous. And I like this idea that the theory should only male enough sense that it disturbs the audience. ‘Cognition and thought in their metaphysical sense are used interchangeably. All cognitive activities are forms of thinking, and thinking as individuation – the bringing forth of sensible individuals – is cognitive activity. Thought and cognition are nevertheless differentiated depending on the more context in which they are applied, as explained in chapter 5’ [p 122].

6.1 / 6.5 Regurgitation for later use

Part II Individuation, Cognition and Interaction

Prologue

The objective of this part is to establish a connection between individuation, cognition (as pe the idea of the cognitive event), and open-ended intelligence.

Chapter 7: A Systemic Concept of Cognition

Conventionally considered to belong to the living. A deep connection exists between life and mind (Thompson) and between life and cognition (Maturana and Varela). At present work is in progress to extend cognition to systems beyond the living. In the existing theories for different fields of research cognition is characterized based on properties of those systems. But: ‘In this chapter, I will argue that if the etymological root and core of meaning of cognition – cognoscere – to get to know, is to be taken to its limits, there is a deeper and more fundamental sense of cognition which is to do with the individuation of systems and the knowledge creation that precedes fully individuated organizations and is instrumental to their becoming. This sense of cognition underlies all forms of organization’ (emphasis of the author) [p 139]. DPB: I agree, there is no escaping from this, given that the metaphysics is in order (as per the above). I like the etymological approach because it often sheds a surprisingly old new light on concepts worn out through overuse. 

7.1 The Enactive Theory of Cognition

7.1.1 A Brief Historical Context

The cognitivist hypothesis (cognitivism) takes the computer as the metaphor. There is a resemblance between this model and the image of thought: the cognitive system forms a model of an a priori existing world, the world must contain discrete and predictable identities and their relations. Connectionism uses the organic brain as the core metaphor. There are no explicit rules, no symbols and no central control. An important difference is that the connectionist model (contrary to the cognitivist model) allows no internal models of the environment in the system, there is no sense of representation. But still it cannot escape completely the issue of representation, as it replaces a reductionist representation with a holistic one. The cognitivist model has a connection with logic: it can be reasoned about. But: ‘Cognitivism and connectionism left unquestioned the relation between the cognitive processes and the real world. As a result, their models of cognition were disembodied and abstract. […] The mind and the world were thus treated as separate and independent of each other, with the outside world mirrored by a representational model inside the head’ (Thompson, 2007, p. 10) [p 142]. Embodied dynamicism sees cognition as a process taking place in the world, with the world, instead of about the world but isolated from it: ‘Put otherwise, cognition is produced in te coupling between an embodied and situated mind and the world’ [p 143].

7.1.2 Preliminary Ideas

Enactive cognition is introduced by Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1992. ‘In its most fundamental sense enactive cognition is the hypothesis that cognition is the product of activity and more specifically of the activity of a cognitive agent in the world’ [p 143]. The question is how cognition is embedded in a world that itself is a product of cognition. DPB: first there is activity in the world by cognitive agents and then that activity produces cognition.

7.1.3 What is Enactive Cognition?

Most concisely, cognition is an embodied action that enacts – brings forth a world, where enaction means a history of structural coupling between the cognitive agent and its milieu’ [p 145]. DPB: but this is a different interpretation than I have used. The meaning I assign to it is to ‘act out’ something motivated by a meme, and to give expression to it. From the quote it means to act out the rules based on a history of structural coupling between the agent and elements in its environment. The coupling can be described as perception that itself is guided by outcomes of previous perceptions. That perspective is wider and so I agree. In the course of these processes, cognitive structures emerge. In enaction perception means the guiding of the activities of the perceiving agent in its local situation. The local situation changes as a result of the agent’s actions and therefore the world as it is perceived can not be assumed (pre)given and independent of the perceiver’s actions. The reference point is called the embodiment and it is the set of relations linking the perceiver’s perceptions to her activities. Embodiment, namely embodied interaction, rather than a (model of a) (pre)given world determines the activities of the perceiver, how it affects and how it is affected by its milieu. In this theory the mind and the world are inseparable. Cognition takes place not inside the agent, but between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupling, the monads and the landscape of Jobs: ‘The agent and its milieu are “bound together in reciprocal specification and selection” (Varela, Thompson and Rosch, 1992, p. 174)’ [p 145]. Enactive cognition is a coordinated dance between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupled dancing landscapes of Kauffman, but these related to fitness landscapes while the subject here is the interaction between agents and their environment, which is closer to a kind of adaptation. ‘Behaviour – the form of the dance – consists of the recurrent patterns that appear within an ongoing unfoldment of intertwined causes and effects’ [p 145]. The system (or agent) decides which elements from its milieu it will be sensitive. ‘The product of cognition is an environment which is neither an a priori given observer-independent world nor a construction or projection of the cognitive agent’s mind. The environment is first and foremost an ongoing joint actualization, inseparable from the enactive agent or its milieu’ [p 146]. DPB: this is an important quote, because it ties the concept of enactive cognition to the development of reality (actualization, namely through the actual and the virtual) as per the previous chapters. Enactive cognition is rooted in the interactions of its agent, and hence it is ontogenetic, not ontological.

7.1.4 Embodiment

Embodiment in the context of enactive cognition is a compound of three sets: a set of sensors (and sensory processes), a set of actuators (and motor processes) and a set of structures that link and cohere between perceptual events in the first set to action events in the second. It is the specifics of these three sets that are determined by the history of structural coupling between the agent and its milieu. All three sets are self-updating in the course of the ongoing structural coupling with the agent’s milieu as the embodiment of the agent is integral to the milieu that can be sensed acted upon. This means that the agent’s embodiment and its milieu are described within the same descriptive domain so their interactions can be described within that same domain too’ [p 147]. DPB: this reminds of natural computation. The last sentence reminds of autopoiesis. This can be the foundation of my computational section. I must research how these processes can produce the concrete behavior of a firm. I use now autopoiesis as well as games, but it is not conclusive. Cognitive agents are self-individuating in the context of their embodiment. DPB: this fits with self-organization and with transduction. 

7.1.5 Autonomy

The idea of autonomy has its roots in the theory of autopoiesis. This theory defines living systems as capable of self-producing and self-maintaining. ‘Autonomy is a more general concept that captures two related properties. The first is self-individuation, that is, the capacity of a system to distinguish itself from its milieu, the second is the capacity of the system to specify its own laws and norms applied in its interactions with the rest of the world’ [p 148]. This means in practical terms that the system can install some laws that increase the probability for some course of action to take if some input is perceived from the milieu. Not all of the actions are directed all of the time with complete certainty. The tree sets (actuators, sensors, relations) are not arbitrary, but self-individuating and capable of acting based on its own norms, that are established by these self-individuating processes. Central to the establishment of autonomy is the concept of operational closure. DPB: see also the article of Francis about the mathematical formulation of this, in summary: ‘The set (P) is said to be operationally closed if and only if the operation of each process in P is a) a condition for the operation of one or more other processes in P and b) is conditioned by the operation of one or more processes in P (..)’ [p 148].Operational closure does not mean that the system depends on the processes in P alone, it can also depend on processes outside of it and conversely operations within the closure can be a necessary condition for processes outside of P. This mutuality can be seen as a form of organizational coherence that distinguishes P from its background: ‘Therefore, operational closure can be said to realize a self-individuating entity, or in other words, it produces and maintains its own identity’ [ p 149]. A stronger kind of autonomy is precarious autonomy, where the operationally closed organization is not only a condition for the entire system itself, but also for the systems it encloses. ‘In a precarious autonomous system, the closure as a whole operates against the otherwise natural tendency of component processes to degenerate’ [p 149]. The system now produces its own preconditions: ‘[a] precarious autonomous system, at whatever level, intervenes in its own substrate in order to sustain a form which is made out of components that paradoxically provide the very tendencies towards the dissolution of the same form’ [p 149]. DPB: the departments of a firm appear not to be precarious, or at least not all of them; however, reformulated as a function, they might be. The precariousness of identity is instrumental in the establishment of norms and the regulation of such norms. An additional property of an autonomous system is operational coherence: each process in the closure is only viable if conditioned and facilitated by interactions with other processes in the closure. This is an emergent property of the system. 

7.1. Structural Coupling and Natural Drift

Structural coupling describes the interactions of a cognitive agent with its milieu: agents are coupled when they have a history of reciprocal perturbations of their structures. This should be treated in an autopoietic sense. The nature of the perturbation are therefore not necessarily instructive as to the nature of the change of the structure they trigger. It is possible that a perturbation from the milieu causes a change in a system, which then in turn cause a change in the milieu &c. When these kinds of interactions become recurrent the systems are said to be structurally coupled. Enactive cognition is realized as a structural coupling between an agent and its milieu. ‘A cognitive agent is an embodied autonomous system that dynamically maintains its identity. This self-individuating activity does not take place in a vacuum but rather by an ongoing engagement with a milieu with which the agent exchanges perturbations’ [p 151]. The system may undergo structural changes, but its autopoietic organization must remain intact; all the structures mapped to that organization are the system’s viability set (DiPaolo, 2009, pp. 8-9) [p 151]. DPB: Maturana and Varela use the concept of structure and the concept of organization, but they do not use the concept of the set of all structures that belong to the system’s organization, all the shapes it can take such that its identity is maintained. ‘The perceptually guided actions that constitute enactive cognition are directed towards increasing the probability of perturbations that trigger structural transformations that are well within the system’s viability set and avoiding perturbations that trigger structural transformations that lead out of the system’s viability set as well as decreasing the probability of the future occurrence of such perturbations’ [p 151]. DPB: the difference with Maturana and Varela is the focus on structure instead of organization. This exact same statement could be made using the organization, without making use of the concept of viability set. I reckon it is a useful concept, however, because I have included the various shapes a firm can take without losing its identity in my Logistical Model (rather unelegantly). But I wasn’t aware of the concept of viability set at the time. Only on account of (the maintaining of) autonomy do particular perturbations gain preference over others, significance, in relation to the system’s state of affairs. Inasmuch as perception can be guided by action, can it be positioned vis-a-vis the milieu so as to better inform future actions based on the immediate as well as tendencies. This means that the effect of action must be gauged such that its effect becomes clear and that action can be taken to improve it. Now the agent’s actions are guided perception and by anticipation and hence the use of the concept of enacted cognition. The guiding principle is often assumed to be fitness, but this cannot explain the vast number of traits in the vast number of organisms and how perceptory systems could possibly keep track of the enormous variety of traits of the elements in systems’ milieus and to assign a fitness to each. An alternative for fitness is the concept of natural drift: ‘to switch from a prescriptive logic to a proscriptive one, that is, from the idea that what is not allowed is forbidden to what is not forbidden is allowed. In the context of evolution this shift means that we remove selection as a prescriptive process that guides and instructs in the task of improving fitness. IN contrast, in a proscriptive context natural selection can be seen to operate, but in a modified sense: selection discards what is not compatible with survival and reproduction. Organisms and the population offer variety; natural selection guarantees only that what ensues satisfies the two basic constraints of survival and reproduction. This proscriptive orientation shifts our attention to the tremendous diversity of biological structures at all levels (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 195)’ [p 153]. DPB: this is very important, I have this somewhere, but I can’t remember if I have ever heard these terms of proscriptive and natural drift before. Evolutionary processes can now be satisficing: they can make do with whatever is available and endlessly vary with them so as to storm local maxima. In the light of the above many elements of systems are under-determined by the conditions of their milieus; there is a vast space of variability for individuation to take place: ‘Evolution (and likewise cognition) as natural drift is a process taking place within an history of structural coupling and where structures drift within their viability set while being pruned from time to time to select out trajectories that are not viable’ [p 153]. Through structural coupling cognitive agents and their milieus progressively determine each other’s behavior and realize their ongoing individuation.

7.2. Sense-making and Boundary Formation

7.2.1 A World Unto Itself

Cognition is not about acquiring and processing information in an objective way as it is understood by computation. Instead cognition creates information rather than only manipulate it; the information it creates has an intrinsic significance: ‘it is information about something for somebody’ [p 155]. To makes sense can be seen as adaptivity, given that it includes both immediate and temporized changes; but it is not enough if the changes are within the viability set, the system must also monitor whether tendencies in the milieu are such that their perturbations can be expected to induce structural changes that lead the system away from the boundaries of its viability set. Now the system can regulate its structural coupling and modify potentially harmful trajectories into beneficial ones. DiPaolo 2009 argues that the existence of these mechanisms is a hallmark of sense-making activities, and hence cognitive agency. This kind of regulation can be explained in terms of cybernetic regulations based on self-created norms (Ashby 1960). 

7.2.2 Sense-Making sans Maker

The concept of enactive cognition is rooted in the theory of autopoiesis. Autopoiesis provides an account for what systems are, but not how they become. DPB: they are assumed to not be work in progress &c. This has dissipated into enactive cognition theory also and hence it provides no foundation for the formative aspect of sense-making. And so it is not possible to explain sense-making as preceding autonomy based on the state of the art in this realm. This problem can be attacked shifting from the logic of individuals to the logic of individuation: autonomous entities are self-individuating; it is not self-individuated as per the literature, because once an identity is attained, it will have to be maintained by itself. ‘Self-individuating, we argue, has a wider sense, describing a system capable not only of maintaining identity but also of undergoing transformations of identity without without losing its overall coherence and integrity’ [p 157]. DPB: this train of thought reminds me of the evolution of a horse, the ancestors of which were not vegetarians. If an identity is roughly a description of ‘how a system survives’ then what it eats surely is an aspect of its identity. In the light of this the identity of a horse has changed from a system that survives as a carnivore to a system that survives as a vegan, however inefficient its metabolism for the processing of vegetables compared for instance to that of a cow. ‘If we assign this extended meaning to autonomy, inevitably sense-making becomes a formative process. It is not merely the activity of maintaining an already existing identity but rather a transformative process of an identity continuously in the making. Once enactive cognition is acknowledged as formative it can be thought of as consisting of two interwoven aspects: the bringing forth of a world and the bringing forth (individuation) of identity. We associate the latter with cognitive development’ [p 157]. DPB: an identity develops as a contour distinct from its background and in the interaction that background develops as distinct from the contour; both ge ever closer and closer to their perfection but never quite reach it as their environments change continually: this is as close to monads as it can get, and the big win is that it is now embedded in this philosophy. ‘Sense-making is a process where identity and its generated norms – the norms that cast significance on the world – may undergo transformations. It is as if sense-making turns upon the sense-maker itself, i.e., it can differ from itself in the course of sense-making’ [p 157]. DPB: this is the lizard-glass experiment, the sense-maker perceives an echo of its actions back via its milieu. They are variations now included in the signals received back and in those variations are the properties, the identity of the individuals in the environment mirrored. The statement quoted above confirms this: when the echo of the signals emitted change then it time for the system to change its behavior and its identity, and hence to transform the way it makes sense, and hence to transform its structure. Business as usual while the shop is under construction. The only ground is metastable ground: ‘From a history of structural coupling (given past experience) one can only infer invariance but never establish it logically’ [p 157]. 

7.2.3 Boundary Formation

A boundary is a topological analogue of a distinction: for instance a distinction between a subset with some property and one without it. This is related to the concept of an individual: ‘In as far as an individual entity is distinguished from its milieu in any arbitrary fashion, there exists a property space where both the individual entity and its milieu can be represented as separated by a boundary. Extending the analogy, the idea of boundary formation intuitively corresponds to individuation’ [p 158]. The hinge is in the boundary left implicit in the definition of structural coupling: if there is to be mutual perturbation between two systems then a boundary is supposed. Prior to its existence there is no history of recurring perturbations and once they are there, then the boundary must also be there and individuation is realized. ‘It is proposed here that the meaning of sense-making that comes prior to self-individuated entities is the process of boundary formation, that is, the spontaneous emergence of a system-milieu distinction in a network P of interacting processes’ [p 158]. This boundary is intrinsic to the network and not imposed by the observer. DPB: I agree and I find this important and I reckon this is a process of self-organization. Once the boundary is there processes can either cross it, or they can be such that they don’t cross it, and hence the formation of the boundary casts a significance over the network, a primitive event of sense-making. ‘What such spontaneous sense-making allows is the consideration of structural coupling prior to autonomy and independently of an observer external to the network’ [p 159]. DPB: this reminds me of the event where a firm is established. This above theory has to explain how the memeplex is configured such that it is coherent and it motivates people to show coherent behavior such that a firm now exists. The individuating of processes can be recursive: first a distinction occurs resulting in individuated processes which in turn make further distinctions and lead to further individuations and individuals. 

7.2.4 Fluid Identities

Fluid identities is an extension of the idea of enactive cognition by replacing the notion of the individual with individuation. By definition a precarious autonomous structure requires operational closure in place during structural coupling: it needs its operational coherence maintained in the course of structural coupling: ‘.. the very property of closure must be maintained but it does not necessarily mean that it is exactly the same closure that is maintained all along’ (emphasis of the author) [p 160]. Operational closure is conditioned by the dependencies among the elements and their system; the identity of the system is a product of the observer, not the origin of the closure. While the autonomy of the system is uninterrupted, the transformation is not merely structural: the identity, the norms (the organization) and its viability set have changed. DPB: this is an important extension of my theory: what happens when the organization changes outside of the domain but closure, autonomy and identity remain uninterrupted. I had assumed that once it is tweaked outside of the domain of interactions, it is destroys, but is not necessarily so, given that the system is sufficiently sophisticated to comply and given enough time. Precarious autonomy is maintained globally (across the series), but not locally (in intermittent parts of the series), because particular processes cease to contribute at some point. ‘Fluid identity is the only proper description for a continuously individuating autonomous agent’ [p 161]. DPB: MONAD. That we describe the world in terms of stable entities is habit. ‘The movement between phases (DPB: subsequent events in a series) has no particular direction. Processes of integration and dissolution of individuals at multiple scales follow each other as cognition unfolds’ [pp. 161-2].

7.3 Cognition and Systems

The enaction of cognition is the system-theoretic counterpart of the metaphysical event of cognition. Cognition and sense-making are significant for thinking of complex systems. An extension of the existing approach to self-organization and cybernetics is the formative evolutionary aspect of boundary formation and transformation of identity. The very notion of a system already presupposes a somewhat stable contraption, but given these above considerations, the question what the concept of a system is becomes relevant. The nature of the boundaries between the system and the observer are investigated in second-order cybernetics (Heylighen & Joslyn 2001, and von Foerster 2007). In the light of the above, in the course of their structural coupling, in a process of mutual sense-making, not only the system and its milieu, but also the observer transform, perturbed by changes in the behavior of the others. In this process there may be phases of higher and of lower coherence: the system and the observer are more, or less, capable of making sense of the behavior of the other. But in that case the understanding of the observer, and the behavior that ensues itself, becomes a factor in the coherence of the system. This is especially apparent in social systems, and proverbial. DPB: the system reacts to the observer and vice versa, an example is the El Farol problem. The extended version of the enacted cognition goes further: ‘Actual reality turns out to be a matter of distinctions, boundaries, interactions across boundaries, the recurrence of patterns of such interactions, and the consequent individuation of processes and entities undergoing phases of stability and non-stability. In short, an ongoing event of cognition – sense-making sans maker’ [p 163]. In addition, in the extended notion of enacted cognition, the notion of perception can be abstracted to anything that can affect a system and action can be abstracted to anything that can affect something else; using the terminology of Part I these are equivalent to sensibility and expression respectively. 

Chapter 8 The Distributed Nature of Cognition

Cognition, like evolution, is a network of interacting processes that has no center. Also analogous to evolution is that cognition is distributed, which becomes apparent in the requirement of operational closure. 

8.1 Population Thinking and Individuation

Population thinking is related to evolution theory and the Aristotelian concept of species. A species present a set of common essential properties shared by all the members; in this way it is a pre-existing identity that precedes its members. Variation is mostly insignificant if it is within the norms of the specified properties. The species is the ontological category and the reality of the individuals is grounded in the species. The apparent variation is limited. The Aristotelian and Platonian metaphysics put identity first and variation second. But evolution theory puts variation first. ‘With evolution theory, the idea of a species as a natural type was replaced by the idea of a species as a population. This replacement has a metaphysical significance: unique individuals are the real ontological elements while a species is reduced to a status of a reification characterized by statistically derived properties’ [p 168]. DPB: Well explained: I explain some of this in my thesis (I think in search for a definition of the subject of evolution), maybe this is a useful quote. Thinking in terms of individuals and differences as metaphysical elements naturally invites population thinking. Population thinking explains phenomena from the perspective of a collection of individuals and the behavior they collectively bring forth. Which individuals belong to a population is contextual and depends on their properties vis a vis the other members of the population and vis a vis the context. When interactions between the members of the population are introduced then: 1. individuals can further individuate (adapt, evolve, coordinate, &c.) 2. through recurrent interactions with other individuals new individuals can form through structural coupling 3. the population becomes a complex adaptive system possibly with emergent properties making it a distinct individual in itself. DPB: this helps to clarify how a human organization can emerge from a multitude of people. Apparently in the above case, the population has already a set of different and / or the same properties turning them into a population; and based on those they develop into a distinct individual. I am not so taken with the concept of a population as used here: I would rather state that a population is that set of individuals which is included by a particular set of behaviors exhibited (and that contributes to the behavior of the collective as an individual), as a consequence of particular properties of the individuals. The reproduction of the (biological) individuals is the major operation driving the individuation of the species: organisms are genetically coupled over generations and through internal selection (reproduction) and external selection (natural selection) that phenotypic traits become stabilized in the population forming a species as an individual with observable distinctive characteristics. ‘Such bodies operate cognitively in the world thus bringing forth their own environment, albeit at scales of space and time different than those of the individual organisms that constitute them’ [p 169]. DPB: this reminds me of the discussion about time with Marta. ‘The existence of a species as an autonomous individual is therefore a precarious one’ [p 169]. DPB: this isn’t very well explained in the text but it is relevant. If a system is precarious the parts contribute to the autopoiesis of the whole but not the other way around; in order to maintain its autopoiesis, the whole must provide the sufficient conditions for the parts also. The conditions for the individual parts are not necessarily aligned and hence the precariousness: the whole is like the Chinese guy simultaneously turning a multitude of plates on sticks, but knowing that if one falls and damages his existence will be damaged also. Moreover, in the case of a precarious system relations exist between the plates also, further adding to the complexity of the system. The theory of enactive cognition and its extension to systemic cognition fit into population thinking: the formation of boundaries and closures, and structural coupling can be explained in terms of populations. 

8.2 Assemblage Theory

Populations are considered fields of individuation. Assemblage theory focuses on the interactions and processes taking place between the individuals. ‘Individuals are metastable constructions that consist of other individuals. We term such constructions assemblages. Assemblages are individuals in the making that can be found at diverse states of consolidation and coherence’ [p 171]. DPB: why is it so important to distinguish between fully individuated individuals and still individuating individuals and individuating not-quite-individuals and freshly started individuating populations (or assemblages)? There is no inherent difference between them, apart from the level of individuation and hence how easy they are to spot, how easy they are to recognize, or perhaps that cognition (as opposed to recognition is required to distinguish them from their milieu, perhaps they are more responsible as individuals. Systems are seen as firm, assemblages lack the integrity and identity. ‘In first approximation an assemblage is a network of interacting heterogeneous individuals that brings forth an individuating yet not necessarily fully individuated entity. From a complementary perspective it is a network of interactions that brings forth distinctions and boundaries, e.g., the interactions that maintain a closure’ [p 171]. DPB: this reminds me of the populations proposed in the Logistic Model, the discourse is their Luhmannian communication, the population includes the individuals that express that communication, and hence, who carry the memeplex. The elements of an assemblage are characterized by: 1. identifying properties that define them as they are subject to their own individuation 2. capacities to interact: to affect and be affected by others. Within an assemblage the interactions can lead to recurrence and coupling and hence to individuation of the assemblage. DPB: But the assemblage is the individual, or rather a kind of a pre-individual, recognizable because of its contour in the context of the wider field of individuals, or rather their behaviors. No, the text is correct: ‘In such cases (of coordinated interactivity or communication) disparity is at least partially and temporarily resolved and they are said to form an assemblage’ [p 172]. Contrary to systems, assemblages do not necessarily have the organization that identifies them. DPB: they are in a pre-autopoietic stage, where there is no overarching organiatrion coordinating their autopoietic behavior. This is a very useful subject. I must integrate this into my Logistical Model where populations are discussed. And I must check how I have used the term ensemble somewhere. This also is relevant for the landscape of Jobs. ‘When an observer observes something for the first time with little or no reference in previous experience, observer and observed form an assemblage. .. As some specific interactions become recurrent and coordinated (while others cease), the initial disparity of elements is being resolved and coherent relations between observer and observed are established as they co-determine (individuate) each other. Such processes constitute what was described in chapter 7 as the enaction of a world, and can also be understood as the individuation of knowledge. Knowledge is established and becomes representable only when the formed assemblage reaches a threshold of coherency and stability’ [pp. 172-3]. So knowledge is produced by the observer and the observed, once they have become coupled ‘It is part of the world brought forth’ [p 173]. The elements of an assemblage play a material role (relevant for the assemblage’s structure) and an expressive role (relevant as to how it affects and is affected (by) others). In assemblage theory the production of expressions through combinations of signs or codes is called coding (DeLanda, 2006, pp. 14-15). 

8.3 The Stratification of Cognition

Metaphysically individuals have the same status, but in populations structural hierarchies exist. This section is about the stratification leading to those hierarchies. Recurrent interactions in a large and heterogeneous population P can lead to the emergence of a sub-population P’ and, given the latter is also large and heterogeneous, recurrent interactions can give rise to sub-strata P’’, &c. The probability for sufficient interaction between individuals to take place must be high enough for another stratum can to emerge (territorialization and deterritorializational processes). For these interactions to take place, given a sufficient stability of the individuals in the population, their frequency must be sufficiently high, and their accessibility must be sufficient. Whether strata develop depends on the properties of the individuals and the statistical properties of the population. When compound individuals form in large enough numbers they condition the interactions of their components, further determinations in the process of individuation of the compounds. DPB: this happens anyway, why must their relative numbers in the population be sufficiently high for this mechanism to be effective? And also: must some antagonist of the compound also be available in sufficiently high numbers for its individuation to occur? In a general population different compound individuals form with variations in stability, frequency and accessibility; these variations have a top-down influence on the production processes of the individuals in the population. If a majority of elements in a population becomes bound to a set of compound individuals they lose their independent individuality, they undergo deterritorialization, to dissolve into new individuals that are elements of a new population on a new stratum. Now that some critical elements have become bound to some of the compound individuals, the production of other kinds of compound individuals also involving those elements, becomes less probable. DPB: this reminds me of corporate takeover processes. The cause of territorialization is recurrent patterns: I wonder if that is what the M&A consultants do: to instill recurrent behavior into the involved firms. Is this indeed a parallel? And if so then, given the limited value generating capabilities of M&A, which are the properties of the firms involved that are affected by this individuating process? ‘Consequently, the probability distribution of formative processes affects the population in such a way that certain constructs become much more probable while other become much less. In a broader view this would mean that certain trajectories of future development of higher strata are being eliminated while other trajectories are reinforced. This is how a stratum can exert selective influences, both on lower and higher strata’ [p 177]. DPB: this reminds me of attractors and repellers viz the Oudemans’ restriction of possible future states. Interactions at a higher producing strata are more complex and constrained than processes at lower producing strata; the emergence of a new stratum involves constraints and territorializations not only of the individual but also of their interactions. DPB: this reminds me of precarious organizations: at a higher level the regulation of the components that are not themselves autonomous, becomes more complicated, because true overall coordination is required without the components ‘taking care of themselves’. When a new stratum emerges the individuals engage in interactions that territorialize each other; these processes affect the individuation processes at substrata and superstrata. DPB: but is this something else then autopoietic orienting? ‘The idea of systemic cognition (DPB: I thought it should say the idea of enacted cognition) suggests that individuals have an intrinsic granularity, that is, an intrinsic substratum of elements and interactions that constitute them and in which the history of the elements’ structural coupling is expressed. Stratification is a process of systemic cognition which drives from the individuals of the substratum and their capacities for interaction’ [p 177]. Cognitive structures are brought forth as a new stratum. not in isolation but in (from) a milieu of other members of their population. It is a distributed process without a center and without an a priori guiding principle. ‘As observers we can always identify a different stratum of interaction as interesting or relevant but these identifications are observer-dependent objectifications (DPB: reifications) and not objective in any absolute sense. In comparison, the intrinsic granularity of individuals is a consequence of a history of coupling. It is no in any way more objective or logically necessary but rather reflects a contingent development with intrinsic significance’ [p 178]. DPB: there is no bias of the observer involved.

8.4 Coding, Representation and Stratification

Following the ideas developed in 8.2-8.3, a coding system is a language-like formal system with a finite set of symbols (signs) and a finite set of syntactic rules that specify how compound individuals are produced, that is, how expression is generated from structure in assemblages of elements’ [p 178]. Coding systems are themselves individuated systems that combinatorially produce expressions based on combinations of elements using their rules; they represent a stratum of individual elements and their interactions; they constitute a ground for further individuation; though finite (DPB: is it?) coding systems are a source of rich and complex populations of interacting individuals; examples are: the atoms and their rules governing chemical reactions, DNA sequences encoding proteins, all spoken languages, Turing machines &c; some coding systems notably languages can recursively produce other coding systems. DPB: this reminds me of natural computing. Another example, at the basis of acquiring knowledge, is the production of theories and models by observers to explain reality; knowledge individuates as hypotheses in the course of interactions between the observer and the observed; the individuality of observer and observed is consolidated in observation. ‘The concept of representation and thought as representation can be understood in terms of coding systems. A thought (in the broad sense we mean in this work) is supported in as far as it can be described within at least one coding system. .. Certain thoughts can be given finite descriptions. Other thoughts can only be given infinite descriptions but still with finite sets of elements and combinatorial rules. .. But there are those thoughts that are entirely unsupported because no coding mechanism exists for them as yet’ [p 179]. DPB: I am not sure that an unsupported thought (thought sans image) requires a system without a mechanism, namely elements or rules, because I believe it is possible to generate newness with existing given non-random rules. The behavior ensuing from such a system exhibits unpredictable and potentially new (and even new to the world, namely sans image) behavior: ‘Perhaps the most interesting case is the individuation of coding mechanisms themselves. What is special about such mechanisms is a finite and (relatively) stable set of elements and rules that gives rise to indefinite proliferation of expressions. The individuation of such mechanisms involves therefore the reduction from infinite to finite of the number of involved individuals and their possible interactions. Both reductions have to do with the limiting difference, which is synonymous with limiting determinability (see 4.1.1)’ [p 179]. 

8.5 Individuation and Information Integration

8.6 Contingency and Innovation

Random processes are crucial to make sense out of nonsense and order from non-order. A tendency to organize is behind the metaphysical principle of self-organization. In contrast the second law of thermodynamics states that systems tend to increase their entropy up to its maximum: equal probability for every possible state and hence no organization. However, maximum entropy requires a closed system, and therefore that difference must be bound, for which there is no good enough reason on a universal scale. 

8.6.1 Unbound Expression

In the metaphysical perspective developed in part I, difference is an unbound source of Ideas. But Ideas are only considered on account of having individual actual expressions. And expression is a combinatorial process of “articulation of the diverse as such” [p 188]. The question is whether the diversity offered by expression is boundless. This is answered to some extent by the exponential character of combinatorial production as a basis for the individuation of new individuals. But individuality alone does not translate into significance: every snowflake is a unique individual but every one expresses the same Idea. The remainder must be explained by the production of Ideas never expressed before: ‘This can be put more precisely in terms of the relations between the material and expressive aspects of assemblages. The material aspect of an assemblage (see 8.2) corresponds to the kinds of element and their interactions that constitute the assemblage as individuating structure (we will use the term structure from here on to indicate the material aspect). Combinatorial production is structural. .. The expressive aspect is the sense an assemblage makes as a whole to all other individuals in its milieu. It is how it affects them and actually forces them to sense by merely existing. Sense, therefore, is multiple because it is inherently a product of multiple perspectives, that is, of an indefinite number of perspectives of all other individuals. .. As the expression of an assemblage depends on both its structure and its milieu, and as we are specifically interested in the relations between the structural and the expressive aspects of assemblages, we will neutralize the contribution of the milieu to the richness of expression by assuming for this discussion that it remains constant’ [p 188]. DPB: this reminds of Wolfram: randomness at the initial conditions, injected from outside, or generated by the system: here it is assumed that no randomness is injected. The relation between structure and expression cannot be assumed to be isomorphic: depending on the other individuals the expression can be different and different structures can turn out to have the same expression. To treat these processes as computation is a simplifying metaphor [p 189]. Wolfram: principle of computational equivalence: ‘In the terminology of assemblage theory, if this hypothesis is correct(and it seems that it is), relatively simple assemblages may produce arbitrarily complex expressions (that it, if they are not found to have trivially simple expression)’ [p 190]. DPB: tadaa! An addition is the computation of equivalent sophistication means that given a non obviously simple set of rules, a computation will follow, that, given time, will end up having the same computational sophistication as all other processes in nature. For assemblage theory this means that the variety of the expressions I not bound to the variety of the structures that produce them.

8.6.2 Innovation in Populations of Complex Individuals

8.6.3 Innovation Spaces

Chapter 9 Interactions

9.1 Understanding Interaction

By interaction we mean a sequence of actions exchanged among agents that is initiated by an agent and unfolds in a chain of effects that returns, eventually, to affect its point of origination through at least one path’ [p 199]. DPB: it might not be initiated by the agent, but outside of the system. If it is only one agent affecting the other then, or there is only one event, is it an interaction? If the initial action is misunderstood by the other agent, can it still be called an interaction? Agents connected along a closed path of activation necessarily interact; on such a path random activities may self-organize. If an assemblage individuates too fast, it may damage some function and die, and if it individuates too slow it will petrify and die.

9.2 Complex Adaptive Systems

A CAS is a heterogeneous population of interacting distributed and asynchronous agents: they are adapting their behavior to circumstances that change because of the behavior of other agents. A CAS is not a system in the classical sense because no goal or central principle of controller is assumed; the properties of the agents are variable and can be unpredictable. The general characteristics of CAS are agents’ properties such as connectivity, distributiveness, population size, heterogeneity, &c. In Holland’s model they are I-O systems (classifier systems). CAS are fields of individuation. 

9.3 Reciprocal Selection and Determination

In evolutionary dynamics, adaptation means the modification of structure and behavior so as to increase the probability of procreation (survival); fitness thus increases. A similar reasoning is deployed above (ch 7) to connect cognition to adaptive behavior in order to maintain the system’s autonomy. Such activities take place in the context of the system’s milieu and across its boundaries with it. No boundary then nothing to maintain. ‘Operating towards its continuation the agent’s activities must therefore consist of selection. First, selecting out all the non-relevant perturbations and second, biasing the effects of external perturbations towards increased fitness. .. for this scenario to make any sense at all and for the agent to have any chance to persist, it must be engaging in inteactions with its mileu. Interactions that allow it to correlate actions to their consequences. Furthermore, its future selections must, at least to some extent, be informed by the consequences of past selections’ [p 202]. DPB: a practical explanation of this mechanism. 

9.4 Cybernetics – The science of Interaction

Cybernetics is about interaction and communication. ‘It was already argued that if there is something rather than nothing (and without presuming the first) it is only on account of interactions’ [p 218]. ‘From this perspective, the most inclusive definition of cybernetics is the science of becoming through interactions’ [p 218]. 

9.5 The Open-Ended intelligence of CAS

So the answer to the question: How can we generate intelligence synthetically? is as follows. Take dynamic system whose laws are unchanging and single-valued, and whose size is so large that after it has gone to an equilibrium that involves only a small fraction of its total states [i.e., the variety remaining after achieving equilibrium], this small fraction is still large enough to allow room for a good deal of change and behavior. Let is go on for a long enough time to get to such an equilibrium. Then examine the equilibrium in detail. You will find that the states or forms in being are peculiarly able to survive against the changes induced by the laws. Split the equilibrium in two, call one part “organism” and the other part “environment”: you will find that this “organism” is peculiarly able to survive against the disturbances from this “environment”. The degree of adaptation and complexity that this organism can develop is bounded only by the size of the whole dynamic system and by the time over which it is allowed to progress towards equilibrium. Thus, as I said, every isolated determinate dynamic system will develop organisms that are adapted to their environments. There is thus no difficulty in principle, in developing synthetic organisms as complex or as intelligent as we please” (Ashby 1962)’ [p 227]. DPB: I like the imperative language, the clarity of it, and the advice.

Chapter 16 Conclusion

Open-ended intelligence means that (virtual) difference is the sufficient reason of all there is. All there is exists as a limit on the unfoldment of difference. Therefore difference itself is self-limiting and by that brings forth actual expression, objects, subjects, relations, concepts, images, ideas, systems and potentialities. Open ended intelligence is presented here via overlapping concepts: individuation, becoming, self-organization, thought sans image, cognition, and sense-making, each highlighting an aspect that is not given to definition. ‘The most significant innovation [of enactive cognition] is that since representations no longer play a central role, the role of the environment as a source of input recedes into the background. It now enters in explanations only on those occasions when systems undergo breakdowns or suffer events that cannot be satisfied by their structures. Accordingly, intelligence shifts from being the capacity to solve a problem to the capacity to enter into a shared world of significance (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 207)’ [p 426]. Weinbaum critiques that to share significance is nobody’s capacity, because the process that enables it precedes both the object and the subject. 

16.1 Horizons of Open-Ended Intelligence

16.1.2.2 Beyond Darwinism

Darwinism can explain smooth development but not the disruptions such as radical innovations. Niche construction is the shaping of the environment as a result of the activities of the system itself, that are of course a result of the shape of the (previous) environment, &c. And so the effect on the system is only partly genetic (memetic) and also depends on the Input from the environment. Niche construction is a process of individuation that involves parties with metastable identities. The concept of systemic / enactive cognition also captures niche construction. 

5.1.1 Being and its Genesis

Simondon’s point of departure is a critique on two existing views on the reality of being. In the substantialist view there is no genesis and being is uncreated. The hylomorphic approach means that form is impressed on matter. Both assume a process of individuation prior to the existence of the individual and a complete individual is presupposed. Reverse engineering the concept of individuation from the starting point, it now needs a principle to attain the individual in the end. If there is a principle of individuation, it has to be the unfoldment of one individual into another. Simondon’s intention is to reverse the relation from individuals changing into their next version to: ‘The individual would then be grasped as a relative reality, a certain phase of being that supposes a preindividual reality, and that, even after individuation, does not exist on its own, because individuation does not exhaust with one stroke the potentials of preindividual reality (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ [p 98]. The conditions for a process of individuation to precede any individual are: 1. there is a preindividual reality or a field of individuation which is not preceded by any individual 2. individuation does not stop and 3. (as per Deleuze’s unilateral determinations) Simondon argues that individuation cannot bring forth individuals in a vacuum and instead produce a partitioned existence of individual and background. To fulfill these condtions a new metaphysical systems is required where no individuation is already encoded (does this mean presupposed?).

5.1.2 Being and Becoming

Simondon’s innovation is that individuation takes place within being: ‘It designates a becoming within being – not a specific becoming but the becoming of being as such. .. “Individuation is thus considered as the only ontogenesis, insofar as it is an operation of the complete being. Individuation must therefore be considered as a partial and relative resolution that occurs in a system that contains potentials and encloses a certain incompatibility in relation to itself – an incompatibility made of forces of tension as well as of the impossibility of an interaction between the extreme terms of the dimensions (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 98]. DPB: this reminds me of the argument of ‘l’englobement du contraire’ of Luhmann: the distinction is made in the thing in itself, in this case the being ‘englobes’ the becoming. Also it reminds me of the balancing between attractors and repellers that are the results of the forces and incompatibilities between different dimensions within the system. 

5.1.3 The Process of Individuation

Individuation is a process that brings forth individuals. DPB: and so logically it can only be known afterwards whether something was a process of individuation or another kind of a process? Simondon borrows the framework of dynamic systems theory, namely far from equilibrium systems. Individuation is a result from tensions in the system in problematic situations. DPB: this reminds of the situation where there is damage to the system, namely a radical change in the environment – outside of the domain of interactions of the system – causing a dramatic change internal to it. The text says: ‘The problematic situation, that is, any situation where incompatibilities between elements invite resolution through change, is the model ground for individuating processes’ [p 100]. DPB: the difference between this quote and my interpretation is that the source of the trouble in my view is injected from outside elements and in the quote the origin is in the elements of the system, internal to it. This reminds me of the Spinozian discussions that there is no source of change within anyone, it is always from outside the person. There is no a priori principle along which individuation takes place: if so it must be the bringing forth of a principle of individuation for application in specific situations is what it does.

5.1.3.1 Metastability

Being is metastable and not stable. It contains a transformative potential that is actualized in a continuous process of individuation. Individuating of systems occurs through interactions between systems and environment. But it is a metaphysical element included in being, and hence Simondon includes in the individuating being both the individual and its environment. ‘The metastable being is not determined a priori but rather individuates along with its structures in a sequence of transitions. Metastability does therefore not mean multiple points of stability, but rather a developing topographic configuration of such points. Clearly, this description resonates with Deleuzes’ description of Ideas’ [p 102]. DPB: this has to do with the affect of singularities on the shape of the topological landscape. ‘Relations, for Simondon, individuate as an intrinsic part of being and are not considered to exist outside of being or between things. .. intensities in the Deleuzian scheme seem to be the virtual counterpart to Simondon’s individuating relations’ [p 102].

5.1.3.2 Transduction

This is the term Simondon uses for the process of individuation; the concept is similar to the concept of the process self-organization; the difference is that self-organization describes convergence of trajectories towards attractors in a configured state-space of a system, while transduction does not assume such a priori configuration. Self-organization is relevant in the light of its product (final state), organization. ‘By transduction we mean an operation – physical, biological, mental, social – by which an activity propagates itself from one element to the next, within a given domain, and founds this propagation on a structuration of the domain that is realized from place to place: each area of the constituted structure serves as the principle and the model for the next area, as a primer for its constitution, to the extent that the modification expands progressively at the same time as the structuring operation’ (Simondon, 2009, p. 11)’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 103]. DPB: this is at the core, the crux: it is the propagation of a structure AND of an activity, or perhaps the other way around, as the structure must be in place to enable the propagation of the activity to take place; this interplay between structure and operation is also the innovation. But how is this different from my earlier understanding of individuation? That, I guess, was still founded on objects, namely the selection of some objects out of a multitude over others. This was in my perception driven by attractors and repellers such that a structure would appear. The selection would be based on their apparent behavior which was more suitable in those circumstances than other kinds of behavior. Transduction says that at some state there is a particular probability distribution for the configuration goes to some next state; that is so because of the possible operations it can perform in that present state. At that new state the configuration has changed and the operations it can do now are different from those at the former state and can be represented in some new probability distribution for the state after that. When it moves to the next state the configuration will again have changed &c. All this reminds me of natural computation: at every state the configuration changes and the possible computations the new system can do will have changed: some state will become much more likely and others will be limited or impossible to reach. As a consequence the configuration will tend to some and move away from other species of states. But in addition transduction moves from area to area within the system (in Dutch this concept is referred to with the verb ‘olievlekken’): ‘Each structure in the series constrains the operations that can immediately follow. Each operation constrains the transformation of the current structure into a new one’ [p 103]. I guess that this ‘olievlek’ mechanism can be explained using autopoietic orientation: when the neighboring system presently starts to show behavior strictly limited to some specific domain of interactions, it is not possible for an agent to any longer to exhibit behavior towards that neighbor that is outside of that domain, lest the communication stops. Each intermediary state is a partial resolution for the release of the internal tensions but drives the system away from stability as other tensions are not yet released or newly introduced. But this process can be represented as an I-O rule system, where the rules are rewritten as the system operates. ‘The progress of transduction circumvents the need for an overarching principle of individuation in that each transition is in fact a local determination that need not depend on structures or operations beyond the immediate one’ [p 104]. DPB: but bear in mind that these local determinations emerge as autonomous behavior of the system, namely a firm. This is at the heart of my attempt to explain things using natural computation and game theory and information processing and cultural computation &c. In addition it is completely ‘just-so’: every snippet of information that sounds appealing to the rest of the memeplex can and will be used (against you). 

5.1.3.3 Information

Simondon’s understanding of information is different from Shannon’s reproduction of messages between sender and receiver: ‘Information has to do with relations, but with formative relations and not with already formed ones. Information is a process of establishing communication where initially there is none: “.. it is the signification that will emerge when an operation of individuation will discover the dimension according to which two disparate realities may become a system. […] [Information] is that by which the incompatibility of the non-resolved system becomes an organizing dimension in the resolution; […] “(Simondon, 2009, pp. 9-10). .. Communication is established in the individuation of signification – the means of exchanging meaning’ (emphasis of the author) [p 104]. DPB: Information is a Process! The significations and the manner in which they are carried among the individuated elements of the system (body gestures, chemical reactions, utterances &c) are inseparable. DPB: I agree because it is not generally understood by a Dutch host when, however well intended, a Chinese person burps a compliment for the supper served to her and a measure of offense might even be taken; however, when expressed verbally the compliment stands a much better chance of being appreciated by the Dutch host. Conversely the Chinese person might take offense when the Dutch host debits her vision on humanitarian issues even when expressed verbally. Language in this sense is not a message passing protocol but an individuating medium: ‘Language is an individuating process, not because it facilitates communication using already individuated messages, but primarily because it establishes communication in situations of incompatibility and disparateness. This is done by continually individuating signification within language’ [p 105]. DPB: this means the redistribution of meaning to utterances, deframing and reframing of meaning as per Luhmann.

5.1.3.4 Levels of Individuation

5.2 Deleuze’s Synthesis of the Sensible

In Deleuzian metaphysics individuation must explain how virtual differences account for actual processes and events. It must explain how the world of actual individuals corresponds with the virtual world of Ideas. The difficulty is that the virtual aspect of reality is pure structure and hence static, and causally sterile. Virtual existence is atemporal and Deleuze’s individuation extends between the temporal and the atemporal: time itself individuates. But the actual is fully conditioned by the virtual.

5.2.1 Transcendental versus Causal Explanations

Logically causal relations are necessary but not sufficient: in practical terms they explain a habit or a repetition for Y to be exist because of the existence of X, but in fact the causes are indefinite. They do not explain anything creative, unique or irregular. Deleuze does not subscribe to causal relations, but instead finds the sufficient reason for everything that actually exists in its corresponding virtual aspect (namely in the intensive differences). DPB: this reminds me of Rodin‘s testament: once the (Deleuzian) Idea exists, then, apart from the particular practicalities of its production, the expression that corresponds to the (Deleuzian) Idea also exists. I find it difficult to remember how the Deleuzian virtual is distinct from the Bergsonian. ‘.. the elements of the actual are individuals, each unique and singular. Individuals cannot be caused in the conventional sense because they are never the same, while the principle of causation is grounded in the repetition of the same (habits). A causative explanation, therefore, cannot be based on singular cases. Since individuals are always different, they cannot causally explain one another. This is why if we consider an actuality made of individuals, causative explanations are necessarily mere superficial generalizations achieved only by averaging differences out and positing sameness prior to repetition’ [p 106]. DPB: this explains why the state of the art is that causal relations cannot explain anything new, and hence that determinism does not explain anything new. Intensive differences are the sufficient reason for the actual, but the virtual does not cause the actual either: ‘Actual individuals are expressionsof virtual differences immanent in them. Virtual differences can never be sensed directly, they can only be expressed’ (emphasis of the author) [p 107]. DPB: Ideas are omnipresent and memes are a special case of them. Reality has dimensions of exteriority (actual) and interiority (virtual). Expression is the exteriority of things, the way they appear, how they affect, and are affected by, other things. Virtual Ideas belong to the interiority of things, their ‘in itself’ dimension: ‘In this sense, expression is nothing but the exteriorization of interiority’ [p 107]. DPB: the basis for the logistical model. To explain the actual in terms of expression renders it transcendental because the sufficient reason for everything now is not directly accessible. ‘Everything experienced, sensed and observed is never entirely what it is. It is merely an expression of something which has indefinitely many other expressions depending on circumstances. Expressions are intrinsically incomplete and impermanent, being the fabric of nomad reality. In other words, individuals possess depth – a virtual depth of what they can become. It is indeed the Idea that determines what the body can do, but the Idea is inexhaustible in terms of its manners of expression. In this sense existence is open-ended; things have an inexhaustible and largely unpredictable variety of expressions depending on their interactions. They can mean very different things under different circumstances’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 109]. DPB: this reminds of Luhmannian deframing and reframing constructivism (?).

5.2.2 The Synthesis of the Sensible

Deleuze hypothesizes a connection between thought and the genesis taking place between the virtual and the actual aspects of reality. The meaning of thought is a metaphysical event beyond the human condition. ‘The sensible or that which is given to sensation is the counterpart of expression. If the expression of X is how it can affect other actualities, the sensibility of X is how it can be affected by other actualities. Expression is therefore the sensible for the other (not for itself). The whole schema of individuation can be concisely and elegantly put as follows: “The real individual is set in motion by sensation, expresses Ideas, falls into actual identity. It is a take on the whole of Ideas, bringing some into greater clarity, throwing others into obscurity. The real individual is driven by sensations that signify a reconfiguration of intensities, a change in which intensities envelop others and which are enveloped (DPB: the terms of the enveloping series are contracted into the enveloping series). It is the site of creation, movement in Ideas and a reconfiguration of intensities expressed in the destruction of the identity of an actual thing and the formation of new identities“ (Williams, 2003, p. 185)’ [pp. 109-10]. Sensations move individuals to express certain Ideas. DPB: this is close to SSP and to my Logistical model where people are motivated to give expression to their ideas by external signals and based on their ‘rule set’; that must then logically be the virtual. Ideas are expressed that from time to time gain identity by becoming temporarily stable. 

5.3 Metaphysical Self-Organization Revisited

Assuming ontogenesis instead of ontology (process instead of object) an hypothesis is needed to explain the existence of identities, as they are no longer metaphysically explained. In a mobile reality all objects are impermanent because the processes that produce them never cease, and hence the question is relevant why there is order at all: disorder>>order>>disorder. DPB: this reminds me of my section on disorder and how it is produced and what it means to have order from disorder. Organization does not have its own sufficient reasons; it has to come from the fundamental mobile reality it presupposes: ‘Self-organization therefore is the feature of chaos (or indifference) that precedes organization and not organization itself. In its metaphysical sense, self-organization comes only to clarify that there is no element or principle transcendent to reality that imposes organization (e.g. a godly principle). It is reality that organizes, in itself and for itself’ [p 114]. DPB: this reminds me of the difficulty to generate really random numbers: real randomness is hard to come by. It further reminds me of the figure Zeus in the dialogues: he can see others only if they are organized. If they are not organized and they are random, they have no identity distinguishing them from their background and Zeus cannot see them. If they are organized and they are not random then Zeus can see them. But if he names them then he sees them even if they are random. Deleuze’s schema for stable structures is that the formula for determination claims indifference to be determinable and how differences as events of unilateral determination bring forth structure expressed in actual stable organizations. But for difference to be a sufficient reason for stability and the emergence of identities repetition (and orders of repetition) are required. ‘Ideas as multiplicities bring forth in their individuation a multiplicity of unique individuals. The internal repetition in the Idea (its multiple nature) is expressed in the external repetition of individuals and forms populations of individuals (see 8.1 ahead)’ [p 114-5]. DPB: this is a description of the variation in the instances of a meme, analogous to the multiplicity of the instances of similar organisms in a population is said to be their species, and given that the concept of a meme can be the same as the concept of an Idea. It is not (yet) equal to the description of a memeplex. Individuation of the virtual brings about order because it is a symmetry breaking event, expressing some Ideas while obscuring others. It is therefore a creative and destructive process. ‘As already hinted, self-organization in the metaphysical sense is responsible for space, time, all the sensible qualities and of course natural laws’ [p 115]. Many of these appear to be eternal invariants but none of them can be proven to be. Conventionally self-organization is understood as attractors as self-identical states in the systems dynamics and the reduction of the of the system’s degrees of freedom as it self-organizes: ‘Instead, self-organization, as the ontogenetic process it is, and as a process of progressive determination, is not necessarily characterized by movement towards stability, invariance and identity. Such movements are merely passing phases’ [p 116]. DPB: but an attractor can be the expression of the behavior of the elements of the system, no?! 

5.4 Conclusing Notes on Deleuze’s metaphysics

5.4.1 Every Thing Thinks

Every body, every thing, thinks and is a thought to the extent that, reduced to its intensive reasons, it expresses an Idea the actualization of which it determines (emphasis of Weaver). However, the thinker himself makes his individual differences from all manner of things: it is in this sense that he is laden with stones and diamonds, plants’ and even animals’[i.e., all the Ideas it connects to but are obscured in the immediate expression]. The thinker, undoubtedly the thinker of eternal return, is the individual, the universal individual.”(Deleuze, 1994, p. 254)’ [p 116-7]. DPB: this is the clearest explanation so far of thinking as a process I have been calling natural computation. Ideas are a more general form of memes, in that Ideas are the basis for everything and memes only for human thought.

5.4.2. The event of cognition

Assuming that thinking is a foundational formative process driven by intensities, then the meaning of cognition changes also. Recognition is related to the image of thought and is a process of discovery but cognition is related to thought sans image and is related to creation. ‘Thought and cognition in the very broad sense presented here are almost synonymous and interchangeable. Thought extends far beyond what we conventionally consider mental activity taking place in brains. Cognition does not involve specific sensory faculties, only interaction and affect (the sensible)’ [p 117]. DPB: lovely, this means that I could change computation (this is too close to computational science suggesting an overly mechanical approach) for thought but also thought (this is too etymologically entwined with human brain activity) for cognition. Simple systems can be characterized by their relations of exteriority, with little interiority, their Ideas are distinct, they can be easily decomposed in their components, they tend to stability. Complex systems are characterized by their relations of exteriority but their relations of interiority too (which can only be inferred), their Ideas are less distinct and they can only be decomposed into their components with more effort, because their past endures in them, they do not tend to stability. For simple systems thought and cognition are the same thing. For complex systems it makes sense to make this distinction: ‘.. to separate the regime of more or less immediate interactions from another, interior and only implicit regime of ongoing transformation. When we represent a system we exteriorize it and by applying symbolic representation to its interiority it becomes simultaneously more simplified and accessible and less realistic. Representation turns thought from productive to cognition and from nomadic to sedentary. Notably, it might be a matter of a single interaction with an additional element that may turn a simple system into a complex one and vice versa. In summary, from a metaphysical perspective, the differentiation between thought and cognition carries no consequence and is therefore context dependent’ [p 118]. DPB: hmmm what to make of that. I better ask Weaver first.

5.4.3 Influence on human thought

Chapter 6: From Difference to Thought

Any metaphysical investigation cannot be validated. This statement makes sense if a truth or a plausibility value can be assigned to the outcome. But truth is hardly the point because a metaphysical hypothesis sets out to enhance the knowledge of reality. A metaphysical set of axioma’s influences one’s thought and experiences, and hence one’s interactions with their environment. The value of such theory is to allow one to think about reality in novel ways. A core belief of the author is that as living beings, our encounter with reality is experimental, and in the same vein philosophy and metaphysics are thought experiments. In the theory presented here the very notion of truth undergoes individuation – the idea that truth precedes its discovery is rooted in identity based metaphysics. ‘It [this theory] need only make enough sense (i.e., to be disturbing enough) as to introduce a minute shift – a difference from that which is obvious and given in conventional thinking’ [p 122]. DPB: this reminds me of Marta saying that if it has a name it is probably dangerous. And I like this idea that the theory should only male enough sense that it disturbs the audience. ‘Cognition and thought in their metaphysical sense are used interchangeably. All cognitive activities are forms of thinking, and thinking as individuation – the bringing forth of sensible individuals – is cognitive activity. Thought and cognition are nevertheless differentiated depending on the more context in which they are applied, as explained in chapter 5’ [p 122].

6.1 / 6.5 Regurgitation for later use

Part II Individuation, Cognition and Interaction

Prologue

The objective of this part is to establish a connection between individuation, cognition (as pe the idea of the cognitive event), and open-ended intelligence.

Chapter 7: A Systemic Concept of Cognition

Conventionally considered to belong to the living. A deep connection exists between life and mind (Thompson) and between life and cognition (Maturana and Varela). At present work is in progress to extend cognition to systems beyond the living. In the existing theories for different fields of research cognition is characterized based on properties of those systems. But: ‘In this chapter, I will argue that if the etymological root and core of meaning of cognition – cognoscere – to get to know, is to be taken to its limits, there is a deeper and more fundamental sense of cognition which is to do with the individuation of systems and the knowledge creation that precedes fully individuated organizations and is instrumental to their becoming. This sense of cognition underlies all forms of organization’ (emphasis of the author) [p 139]. DPB: I agree, there is no escaping from this, given that the metaphysics is in order (as per the above). I like the etymological approach because it often sheds a surprisingly old new light on concepts worn out through overuse. 

7.1 The Enactive Theory of Cognition

7.1.1 A Brief Historical Context

The cognitivist hypothesis (cognitivism) takes the computer as the metaphor. There is a resemblance between this model and the image of thought: the cognitive system forms a model of an a priori existing world, the world must contain discrete and predictable identities and their relations. Connectionism uses the organic brain as the core metaphor. There are no explicit rules, no symbols and no central control. An important difference is that the connectionist model (contrary to the cognitivist model) allows no internal models of the environment in the system, there is no sense of representation. But still it cannot escape completely the issue of representation, as it replaces a reductionist representation with a holistic one. The cognitivist model has a connection with logic: it can be reasoned about. But: ‘Cognitivism and connectionism left unquestioned the relation between the cognitive processes and the real world. As a result, their models of cognition were disembodied and abstract. […] The mind and the world were thus treated as separate and independent of each other, with the outside world mirrored by a representational model inside the head’ (Thompson, 2007, p. 10) [p 142]. Embodied dynamicism sees cognition as a process taking place in the world, with the world, instead of about the world but isolated from it: ‘Put otherwise, cognition is produced in te coupling between an embodied and situated mind and the world’ [p 143].

7.1.2 Preliminary Ideas

Enactive cognition is introduced by Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1992. ‘In its most fundamental sense enactive cognition is the hypothesis that cognition is the product of activity and more specifically of the activity of a cognitive agent in the world’ [p 143]. The question is how cognition is embedded in a world that itself is a product of cognition. DPB: first there is activity in the world by cognitive agents and then that activity produces cognition.

7.1.3 What is Enactive Cognition?

Most concisely, cognition is an embodied action that enacts – brings forth a world, where enaction means a history of structural coupling between the cognitive agent and its milieu’ [p 145]. DPB: but this is a different interpretation than I have used. The meaning I assign to it is to ‘act out’ something motivated by a meme, and to give expression to it. From the quote it means to act out the rules based on a history of structural coupling between the agent and elements in its environment. The coupling can be described as perception that itself is guided by outcomes of previous perceptions. That perspective is wider and so I agree. In the course of these processes, cognitive structures emerge. In enaction perception means the guiding of the activities of the perceiving agent in its local situation. The local situation changes as a result of the agent’s actions and therefore the world as it is perceived can not be assumed (pre)given and independent of the perceiver’s actions. The reference point is called the embodiment and it is the set of relations linking the perceiver’s perceptions to her activities. Embodiment, namely embodied interaction, rather than a (model of a) (pre)given world determines the activities of the perceiver, how it affects and how it is affected by its milieu. In this theory the mind and the world are inseparable. Cognition takes place not inside the agent, but between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupling, the monads and the landscape of Jobs: ‘The agent and its milieu are “bound together in reciprocal specification and selection” (Varela, Thompson and Rosch, 1992, p. 174)’ [p 145]. Enactive cognition is a coordinated dance between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupled dancing landscapes of Kauffman, but these related to fitness landscapes while the subject here is the interaction between agents and their environment, which is closer to a kind of adaptation. ‘Behaviour – the form of the dance – consists of the recurrent patterns that appear within an ongoing unfoldment of intertwined causes and effects’ [p 145]. The system (or agent) decides which elements from its milieu it will be sensitive. ‘The product of cognition is an environment which is neither an a priori given observer-independent world nor a construction or projection of the cognitive agent’s mind. The environment is first and foremost an ongoing joint actualization, inseparable from the enactive agent or its milieu’ [p 146]. DPB: this is an important quote, because it ties the concept of enactive cognition to the development of reality (actualization, namely through the actual and the virtual) as per the previous chapters. Enactive cognition is rooted in the interactions of its agent, and hence it is ontogenetic, not ontological.

7.1.4 Embodiment

Embodiment in the context of enactive cognition is a compound of three sets: a set of sensors (and sensory processes), a set of actuators (and motor processes) and a set of structures that link and cohere between perceptual events in the first set to action events in the second. It is the specifics of these three sets that are determined by the history of structural coupling between the agent and its milieu. All three sets are self-updating in the course of the ongoing structural coupling with the agent’s milieu as the embodiment of the agent is integral to the milieu that can be sensed acted upon. This means that the agent’s embodiment and its milieu are described within the same descriptive domain so their interactions can be described within that same domain too’ [p 147]. DPB: this reminds of natural computation. The last sentence reminds of autopoiesis. This can be the foundation of my computational section. I must research how these processes can produce the concrete behavior of a firm. I use now autopoiesis as well as games, but it is not conclusive. Cognitive agents are self-individuating in the context of their embodiment. DPB: this fits with self-organization and with transduction. 

7.1.5 Autonomy

The idea of autonomy has its roots in the theory of autopoiesis. This theory defines living systems as capable of self-producing and self-maintaining. ‘Autonomy is a more general concept that captures two related properties. The first is self-individuation, that is, the capacity of a system to distinguish itself from its milieu, the second is the capacity of the system to specify its own laws and norms applied in its interactions with the rest of the world’ [p 148]. This means in practical terms that the system can install some laws that increase the probability for some course of action to take if some input is perceived from the milieu. Not all of the actions are directed all of the time with complete certainty. The tree sets (actuators, sensors, relations) are not arbitrary, but self-individuating and capable of acting based on its own norms, that are established by these self-individuating processes. Central to the establishment of autonomy is the concept of operational closure. DPB: see also the article of Francis about the mathematical formulation of this, in summary: ‘The set (P) is said to be operationally closed if and only if the operation of each process in P is a) a condition for the operation of one or more other processes in P and b) is conditioned by the operation of one or more processes in P (..)’ [p 148].Operational closure does not mean that the system depends on the processes in P alone, it can also depend on processes outside of it and conversely operations within the closure can be a necessary condition for processes outside of P. This mutuality can be seen as a form of organizational coherence that distinguishes P from its background: ‘Therefore, operational closure can be said to realize a self-individuating entity, or in other words, it produces and maintains its own identity’ [ p 149]. A stronger kind of autonomy is precarious autonomy, where the operationally closed organization is not only a condition for the entire system itself, but also for the systems it encloses. ‘In a precarious autonomous system, the closure as a whole operates against the otherwise natural tendency of component processes to degenerate’ [p 149]. The system now produces its own preconditions: ‘[a] precarious autonomous system, at whatever level, intervenes in its own substrate in order to sustain a form which is made out of components that paradoxically provide the very tendencies towards the dissolution of the same form’ [p 149]. DPB: the departments of a firm appear not to be precarious, or at least not all of them; however, reformulated as a function, they might be. The precariousness of identity is instrumental in the establishment of norms and the regulation of such norms. An additional property of an autonomous system is operational coherence: each process in the closure is only viable if conditioned and facilitated by interactions with other processes in the closure. This is an emergent property of the system. 

7.1. Structural Coupling and Natural Drift

Structural coupling describes the interactions of a cognitive agent with its milieu: agents are coupled when they have a history of reciprocal perturbations of their structures. This should be treated in an autopoietic sense. The nature of the perturbation are therefore not necessarily instructive as to the nature of the change of the structure they trigger. It is possible that a perturbation from the milieu causes a change in a system, which then in turn cause a change in the milieu &c. When these kinds of interactions become recurrent the systems are said to be structurally coupled. Enactive cognition is realized as a structural coupling between an agent and its milieu. ‘A cognitive agent is an embodied autonomous system that dynamically maintains its identity. This self-individuating activity does not take place in a vacuum but rather by an ongoing engagement with a milieu with which the agent exchanges perturbations’ [p 151]. The system may undergo structural changes, but its autopoietic organization must remain intact; all the structures mapped to that organization are the system’s viability set (DiPaolo, 2009, pp. 8-9) [p 151]. DPB: Maturana and Varela use the concept of structure and the concept of organization, but they do not use the concept of the set of all structures that belong to the system’s organization, all the shapes it can take such that its identity is maintained. ‘The perceptually guided actions that constitute enactive cognition are directed towards increasing the probability of perturbations that trigger structural transformations that are well within the system’s viability set and avoiding perturbations that trigger structural transformations that lead out of the system’s viability set as well as decreasing the probability of the future occurrence of such perturbations’ [p 151]. DPB: the difference with Maturana and Varela is the focus on structure instead of organization. This exact same statement could be made using the organization, without making use of the concept of viability set. I reckon it is a useful concept, however, because I have included the various shapes a firm can take without losing its identity in my Logistical Model (rather unelegantly). But I wasn’t aware of the concept of viability set at the time. Only on account of (the maintaining of) autonomy do particular perturbations gain preference over others, significance, in relation to the system’s state of affairs. Inasmuch as perception can be guided by action, can it be positioned vis-a-vis the milieu so as to better inform future actions based on the immediate as well as tendencies. This means that the effect of action must be gauged such that its effect becomes clear and that action can be taken to improve it. Now the agent’s actions are guided perception and by anticipation and hence the use of the concept of enacted cognition. The guiding principle is often assumed to be fitness, but this cannot explain the vast number of traits in the vast number of organisms and how perceptory systems could possibly keep track of the enormous variety of traits of the elements in systems’ milieus and to assign a fitness to each. An alternative for fitness is the concept of natural drift: ‘to switch from a prescriptive logic to a proscriptive one, that is, from the idea that what is not allowed is forbidden to what is not forbidden is allowed. In the context of evolution this shift means that we remove selection as a prescriptive process that guides and instructs in the task of improving fitness. IN contrast, in a proscriptive context natural selection can be seen to operate, but in a modified sense: selection discards what is not compatible with survival and reproduction. Organisms and the population offer variety; natural selection guarantees only that what ensues satisfies the two basic constraints of survival and reproduction. This proscriptive orientation shifts our attention to the tremendous diversity of biological structures at all levels (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 195)’ [p 153]. DPB: this is very important, I have this somewhere, but I can’t remember if I have ever heard these terms of proscriptive and natural drift before. Evolutionary processes can now be satisficing: they can make do with whatever is available and endlessly vary with them so as to storm local maxima. In the light of the above many elements of systems are under-determined by the conditions of their milieus; there is a vast space of variability for individuation to take place: ‘Evolution (and likewise cognition) as natural drift is a process taking place within an history of structural coupling and where structures drift within their viability set while being pruned from time to time to select out trajectories that are not viable’ [p 153]. Through structural coupling cognitive agents and their milieus progressively determine each other’s behavior and realize their ongoing individuation.

7.2. Sense-making and Boundary Formation

7.2.1 A World Unto Itself

Cognition is not about acquiring and processing information in an objective way as it is understood by computation. Instead cognition creates information rather than only manipulate it; the information it creates has an intrinsic significance: ‘it is information about something for somebody’ [p 155]. To makes sense can be seen as adaptivity, given that it includes both immediate and temporized changes; but it is not enough if the changes are within the viability set, the system must also monitor whether tendencies in the milieu are such that their perturbations can be expected to induce structural changes that lead the system away from the boundaries of its viability set. Now the system can regulate its structural coupling and modify potentially harmful trajectories into beneficial ones. DiPaolo 2009 argues that the existence of these mechanisms is a hallmark of sense-making activities, and hence cognitive agency. This kind of regulation can be explained in terms of cybernetic regulations based on self-created norms (Ashby 1960). 

7.2.2 Sense-Making sans Maker

The concept of enactive cognition is rooted in the theory of autopoiesis. Autopoiesis provides an account for what systems are, but not how they become. DPB: they are assumed to not be work in progress &c. This has dissipated into enactive cognition theory also and hence it provides no foundation for the formative aspect of sense-making. And so it is not possible to explain sense-making as preceding autonomy based on the state of the art in this realm. This problem can be attacked shifting from the logic of individuals to the logic of individuation: autonomous entities are self-individuating; it is not self-individuated as per the literature, because once an identity is attained, it will have to be maintained by itself. ‘Self-individuating, we argue, has a wider sense, describing a system capable not only of maintaining identity but also of undergoing transformations of identity without without losing its overall coherence and integrity’ [p 157]. DPB: this train of thought reminds me of the evolution of a horse, the ancestors of which were not vegetarians. If an identity is roughly a description of ‘how a system survives’ then what it eats surely is an aspect of its identity. In the light of this the identity of a horse has changed from a system that survives as a carnivore to a system that survives as a vegan, however inefficient its metabolism for the processing of vegetables compared for instance to that of a cow. ‘If we assign this extended meaning to autonomy, inevitably sense-making becomes a formative process. It is not merely the activity of maintaining an already existing identity but rather a transformative process of an identity continuously in the making. Once enactive cognition is acknowledged as formative it can be thought of as consisting of two interwoven aspects: the bringing forth of a world and the bringing forth (individuation) of identity. We associate the latter with cognitive development’ [p 157]. DPB: an identity develops as a contour distinct from its background and in the interaction that background develops as distinct from the contour; both ge ever closer and closer to their perfection but never quite reach it as their environments change continually: this is as close to monads as it can get, and the big win is that it is now embedded in this philosophy. ‘Sense-making is a process where identity and its generated norms – the norms that cast significance on the world – may undergo transformations. It is as if sense-making turns upon the sense-maker itself, i.e., it can differ from itself in the course of sense-making’ [p 157]. DPB: this is the lizard-glass experiment, the sense-maker perceives an echo of its actions back via its milieu. They are variations now included in the signals received back and in those variations are the properties, the identity of the individuals in the environment mirrored. The statement quoted above confirms this: when the echo of the signals emitted change then it time for the system to change its behavior and its identity, and hence to transform the way it makes sense, and hence to transform its structure. Business as usual while the shop is under construction. The only ground is metastable ground: ‘From a history of structural coupling (given past experience) one can only infer invariance but never establish it logically’ [p 157]. 

7.2.3 Boundary Formation

A boundary is a topological analogue of a distinction: for instance a distinction between a subset with some property and one without it. This is related to the concept of an individual: ‘In as far as an individual entity is distinguished from its milieu in any arbitrary fashion, there exists a property space where both the individual entity and its milieu can be represented as separated by a boundary. Extending the analogy, the idea of boundary formation intuitively corresponds to individuation’ [p 158]. The hinge is in the boundary left implicit in the definition of structural coupling: if there is to be mutual perturbation between two systems then a boundary is supposed. Prior to its existence there is no history of recurring perturbations and once they are there, then the boundary must also be there and individuation is realized. ‘It is proposed here that the meaning of sense-making that comes prior to self-individuated entities is the process of boundary formation, that is, the spontaneous emergence of a system-milieu distinction in a network P of interacting processes’ [p 158]. This boundary is intrinsic to the network and not imposed by the observer. DPB: I agree and I find this important and I reckon this is a process of self-organization. Once the boundary is there processes can either cross it, or they can be such that they don’t cross it, and hence the formation of the boundary casts a significance over the network, a primitive event of sense-making. ‘What such spontaneous sense-making allows is the consideration of structural coupling prior to autonomy and independently of an observer external to the network’ [p 159]. DPB: this reminds me of the event where a firm is established. This above theory has to explain how the memeplex is configured such that it is coherent and it motivates people to show coherent behavior such that a firm now exists. The individuating of processes can be recursive: first a distinction occurs resulting in individuated processes which in turn make further distinctions and lead to further individuations and individuals. 

7.2.4 Fluid Identities

Fluid identities is an extension of the idea of enactive cognition by replacing the notion of the individual with individuation. By definition a precarious autonomous structure requires operational closure in place during structural coupling: it needs its operational coherence maintained in the course of structural coupling: ‘.. the very property of closure must be maintained but it does not necessarily mean that it is exactly the same closure that is maintained all along’ (emphasis of the author) [p 160]. Operational closure is conditioned by the dependencies among the elements and their system; the identity of the system is a product of the observer, not the origin of the closure. While the autonomy of the system is uninterrupted, the transformation is not merely structural: the identity, the norms (the organization) and its viability set have changed. DPB: this is an important extension of my theory: what happens when the organization changes outside of the domain but closure, autonomy and identity remain uninterrupted. I had assumed that once it is tweaked outside of the domain of interactions, it is destroys, but is not necessarily so, given that the system is sufficiently sophisticated to comply and given enough time. Precarious autonomy is maintained globally (across the series), but not locally (in intermittent parts of the series), because particular processes cease to contribute at some point. ‘Fluid identity is the only proper description for a continuously individuating autonomous agent’ [p 161]. DPB: MONAD. That we describe the world in terms of stable entities is habit. ‘The movement between phases (DPB: subsequent events in a series) has no particular direction. Processes of integration and dissolution of individuals at multiple scales follow each other as cognition unfolds’ [pp. 161-2].

7.3 Cognition and Systems

The enaction of cognition is the system-theoretic counterpart of the metaphysical event of cognition. Cognition and sense-making are significant for thinking of complex systems. An extension of the existing approach to self-organization and cybernetics is the formative evolutionary aspect of boundary formation and transformation of identity. The very notion of a system already presupposes a somewhat stable contraption, but given these above considerations, the question what the concept of a system is becomes relevant. The nature of the boundaries between the system and the observer are investigated in second-order cybernetics (Heylighen & Joslyn 2001, and von Foerster 2007). In the light of the above, in the course of their structural coupling, in a process of mutual sense-making, not only the system and its milieu, but also the observer transform, perturbed by changes in the behavior of the others. In this process there may be phases of higher and of lower coherence: the system and the observer are more, or less, capable of making sense of the behavior of the other. But in that case the understanding of the observer, and the behavior that ensues itself, becomes a factor in the coherence of the system. This is especially apparent in social systems, and proverbial. DPB: the system reacts to the observer and vice versa, an example is the El Farol problem. The extended version of the enacted cognition goes further: ‘Actual reality turns out to be a matter of distinctions, boundaries, interactions across boundaries, the recurrence of patterns of such interactions, and the consequent individuation of processes and entities undergoing phases of stability and non-stability. In short, an ongoing event of cognition – sense-making sans maker’ [p 163]. In addition, in the extended notion of enacted cognition, the notion of perception can be abstracted to anything that can affect a system and action can be abstracted to anything that can affect something else; using the terminology of Part I these are equivalent to sensibility and expression respectively. 

Chapter 8 The Distributed Nature of Cognition

Cognition, like evolution, is a network of interacting processes that has no center. Also analogous to evolution is that cognition is distributed, which becomes apparent in the requirement of operational closure. 

8.1 Population Thinking and Individuation

Population thinking is related to evolution theory and the Aristotelian concept of species. A species present a set of common essential properties shared by all the members; in this way it is a pre-existing identity that precedes its members. Variation is mostly insignificant if it is within the norms of the specified properties. The species is the ontological category and the reality of the individuals is grounded in the species. The apparent variation is limited. The Aristotelian and Platonian metaphysics put identity first and variation second. But evolution theory puts variation first. ‘With evolution theory, the idea of a species as a natural type was replaced by the idea of a species as a population. This replacement has a metaphysical significance: unique individuals are the real ontological elements while a species is reduced to a status of a reification characterized by statistically derived properties’ [p 168]. DPB: Well explained: I explain some of this in my thesis (I think in search for a definition of the subject of evolution), maybe this is a useful quote. Thinking in terms of individuals and differences as metaphysical elements naturally invites population thinking. Population thinking explains phenomena from the perspective of a collection of individuals and the behavior they collectively bring forth. Which individuals belong to a population is contextual and depends on their properties vis a vis the other members of the population and vis a vis the context. When interactions between the members of the population are introduced then: 1. individuals can further individuate (adapt, evolve, coordinate, &c.) 2. through recurrent interactions with other individuals new individuals can form through structural coupling 3. the population becomes a complex adaptive system possibly with emergent properties making it a distinct individual in itself. DPB: this helps to clarify how a human organization can emerge from a multitude of people. Apparently in the above case, the population has already a set of different and / or the same properties turning them into a population; and based on those they develop into a distinct individual. I am not so taken with the concept of a population as used here: I would rather state that a population is that set of individuals which is included by a particular set of behaviors exhibited (and that contributes to the behavior of the collective as an individual), as a consequence of particular properties of the individuals. The reproduction of the (biological) individuals is the major operation driving the individuation of the species: organisms are genetically coupled over generations and through internal selection (reproduction) and external selection (natural selection) that phenotypic traits become stabilized in the population forming a species as an individual with observable distinctive characteristics. ‘Such bodies operate cognitively in the world thus bringing forth their own environment, albeit at scales of space and time different than those of the individual organisms that constitute them’ [p 169]. DPB: this reminds me of the discussion about time with Marta. ‘The existence of a species as an autonomous individual is therefore a precarious one’ [p 169]. DPB: this isn’t very well explained in the text but it is relevant. If a system is precarious the parts contribute to the autopoiesis of the whole but not the other way around; in order to maintain its autopoiesis, the whole must provide the sufficient conditions for the parts also. The conditions for the individual parts are not necessarily aligned and hence the precariousness: the whole is like the Chinese guy simultaneously turning a multitude of plates on sticks, but knowing that if one falls and damages his existence will be damaged also. Moreover, in the case of a precarious system relations exist between the plates also, further adding to the complexity of the system. The theory of enactive cognition and its extension to systemic cognition fit into population thinking: the formation of boundaries and closures, and structural coupling can be explained in terms of populations. 

8.2 Assemblage Theory

Populations are considered fields of individuation. Assemblage theory focuses on the interactions and processes taking place between the individuals. ‘Individuals are metastable constructions that consist of other individuals. We term such constructions assemblages. Assemblages are individuals in the making that can be found at diverse states of consolidation and coherence’ [p 171]. DPB: why is it so important to distinguish between fully individuated individuals and still individuating individuals and individuating not-quite-individuals and freshly started individuating populations (or assemblages)? There is no inherent difference between them, apart from the level of individuation and hence how easy they are to spot, how easy they are to recognize, or perhaps that cognition (as opposed to recognition is required to distinguish them from their milieu, perhaps they are more responsible as individuals. Systems are seen as firm, assemblages lack the integrity and identity. ‘In first approximation an assemblage is a network of interacting heterogeneous individuals that brings forth an individuating yet not necessarily fully individuated entity. From a complementary perspective it is a network of interactions that brings forth distinctions and boundaries, e.g., the interactions that maintain a closure’ [p 171]. DPB: this reminds me of the populations proposed in the Logistic Model, the discourse is their Luhmannian communication, the population includes the individuals that express that communication, and hence, who carry the memeplex. The elements of an assemblage are characterized by: 1. identifying properties that define them as they are subject to their own individuation 2. capacities to interact: to affect and be affected by others. Within an assemblage the interactions can lead to recurrence and coupling and hence to individuation of the assemblage. DPB: But the assemblage is the individual, or rather a kind of a pre-individual, recognizable because of its contour in the context of the wider field of individuals, or rather their behaviors. No, the text is correct: ‘In such cases (of coordinated interactivity or communication) disparity is at least partially and temporarily resolved and they are said to form an assemblage’ [p 172]. Contrary to systems, assemblages do not necessarily have the organization that identifies them. DPB: they are in a pre-autopoietic stage, where there is no overarching organiatrion coordinating their autopoietic behavior. This is a very useful subject. I must integrate this into my Logistical Model where populations are discussed. And I must check how I have used the term ensemble somewhere. This also is relevant for the landscape of Jobs. ‘When an observer observes something for the first time with little or no reference in previous experience, observer and observed form an assemblage. .. As some specific interactions become recurrent and coordinated (while others cease), the initial disparity of elements is being resolved and coherent relations between observer and observed are established as they co-determine (individuate) each other. Such processes constitute what was described in chapter 7 as the enaction of a world, and can also be understood as the individuation of knowledge. Knowledge is established and becomes representable only when the formed assemblage reaches a threshold of coherency and stability’ [pp. 172-3]. So knowledge is produced by the observer and the observed, once they have become coupled ‘It is part of the world brought forth’ [p 173]. The elements of an assemblage play a material role (relevant for the assemblage’s structure) and an expressive role (relevant as to how it affects and is affected (by) others). In assemblage theory the production of expressions through combinations of signs or codes is called coding (DeLanda, 2006, pp. 14-15). 

8.3 The Stratification of Cognition

Metaphysically individuals have the same status, but in populations structural hierarchies exist. This section is about the stratification leading to those hierarchies. Recurrent interactions in a large and heterogeneous population P can lead to the emergence of a sub-population P’ and, given the latter is also large and heterogeneous, recurrent interactions can give rise to sub-strata P’’, &c. The probability for sufficient interaction between individuals to take place must be high enough for another stratum can to emerge (territorialization and deterritorializational processes). For these interactions to take place, given a sufficient stability of the individuals in the population, their frequency must be sufficiently high, and their accessibility must be sufficient. Whether strata develop depends on the properties of the individuals and the statistical properties of the population. When compound individuals form in large enough numbers they condition the interactions of their components, further determinations in the process of individuation of the compounds. DPB: this happens anyway, why must their relative numbers in the population be sufficiently high for this mechanism to be effective? And also: must some antagonist of the compound also be available in sufficiently high numbers for its individuation to occur? In a general population different compound individuals form with variations in stability, frequency and accessibility; these variations have a top-down influence on the production processes of the individuals in the population. If a majority of elements in a population becomes bound to a set of compound individuals they lose their independent individuality, they undergo deterritorialization, to dissolve into new individuals that are elements of a new population on a new stratum. Now that some critical elements have become bound to some of the compound individuals, the production of other kinds of compound individuals also involving those elements, becomes less probable. DPB: this reminds me of corporate takeover processes. The cause of territorialization is recurrent patterns: I wonder if that is what the M&A consultants do: to instill recurrent behavior into the involved firms. Is this indeed a parallel? And if so then, given the limited value generating capabilities of M&A, which are the properties of the firms involved that are affected by this individuating process? ‘Consequently, the probability distribution of formative processes affects the population in such a way that certain constructs become much more probable while other become much less. In a broader view this would mean that certain trajectories of future development of higher strata are being eliminated while other trajectories are reinforced. This is how a stratum can exert selective influences, both on lower and higher strata’ [p 177]. DPB: this reminds me of attractors and repellers viz the Oudemans’ restriction of possible future states. Interactions at a higher producing strata are more complex and constrained than processes at lower producing strata; the emergence of a new stratum involves constraints and territorializations not only of the individual but also of their interactions. DPB: this reminds me of precarious organizations: at a higher level the regulation of the components that are not themselves autonomous, becomes more complicated, because true overall coordination is required without the components ‘taking care of themselves’. When a new stratum emerges the individuals engage in interactions that territorialize each other; these processes affect the individuation processes at substrata and superstrata. DPB: but is this something else then autopoietic orienting? ‘The idea of systemic cognition (DPB: I thought it should say the idea of enacted cognition) suggests that individuals have an intrinsic granularity, that is, an intrinsic substratum of elements and interactions that constitute them and in which the history of the elements’ structural coupling is expressed. Stratification is a process of systemic cognition which drives from the individuals of the substratum and their capacities for interaction’ [p 177]. Cognitive structures are brought forth as a new stratum. not in isolation but in (from) a milieu of other members of their population. It is a distributed process without a center and without an a priori guiding principle. ‘As observers we can always identify a different stratum of interaction as interesting or relevant but these identifications are observer-dependent objectifications (DPB: reifications) and not objective in any absolute sense. In comparison, the intrinsic granularity of individuals is a consequence of a history of coupling. It is no in any way more objective or logically necessary but rather reflects a contingent development with intrinsic significance’ [p 178]. DPB: there is no bias of the observer involved.

8.4 Coding, Representation and Stratification

Following the ideas developed in 8.2-8.3, a coding system is a language-like formal system with a finite set of symbols (signs) and a finite set of syntactic rules that specify how compound individuals are produced, that is, how expression is generated from structure in assemblages of elements’ [p 178]. Coding systems are themselves individuated systems that combinatorially produce expressions based on combinations of elements using their rules; they represent a stratum of individual elements and their interactions; they constitute a ground for further individuation; though finite (DPB: is it?) coding systems are a source of rich and complex populations of interacting individuals; examples are: the atoms and their rules governing chemical reactions, DNA sequences encoding proteins, all spoken languages, Turing machines &c; some coding systems notably languages can recursively produce other coding systems. DPB: this reminds me of natural computing. Another example, at the basis of acquiring knowledge, is the production of theories and models by observers to explain reality; knowledge individuates as hypotheses in the course of interactions between the observer and the observed; the individuality of observer and observed is consolidated in observation. ‘The concept of representation and thought as representation can be understood in terms of coding systems. A thought (in the broad sense we mean in this work) is supported in as far as it can be described within at least one coding system. .. Certain thoughts can be given finite descriptions. Other thoughts can only be given infinite descriptions but still with finite sets of elements and combinatorial rules. .. But there are those thoughts that are entirely unsupported because no coding mechanism exists for them as yet’ [p 179]. DPB: I am not sure that an unsupported thought (thought sans image) requires a system without a mechanism, namely elements or rules, because I believe it is possible to generate newness with existing given non-random rules. The behavior ensuing from such a system exhibits unpredictable and potentially new (and even new to the world, namely sans image) behavior: ‘Perhaps the most interesting case is the individuation of coding mechanisms themselves. What is special about such mechanisms is a finite and (relatively) stable set of elements and rules that gives rise to indefinite proliferation of expressions. The individuation of such mechanisms involves therefore the reduction from infinite to finite of the number of involved individuals and their possible interactions. Both reductions have to do with the limiting difference, which is synonymous with limiting determinability (see 4.1.1)’ [p 179]. 

8.5 Individuation and Information Integration

8.6 Contingency and Innovation

Random processes are crucial to make sense out of nonsense and order from non-order. A tendency to organize is behind the metaphysical principle of self-organization. In contrast the second law of thermodynamics states that systems tend to increase their entropy up to its maximum: equal probability for every possible state and hence no organization. However, maximum entropy requires a closed system, and therefore that difference must be bound, for which there is no good enough reason on a universal scale. 

8.6.1 Unbound Expression

In the metaphysical perspective developed in part I, difference is an unbound source of Ideas. But Ideas are only considered on account of having individual actual expressions. And expression is a combinatorial process of “articulation of the diverse as such” [p 188]. The question is whether the diversity offered by expression is boundless. This is answered to some extent by the exponential character of combinatorial production as a basis for the individuation of new individuals. But individuality alone does not translate into significance: every snowflake is a unique individual but every one expresses the same Idea. The remainder must be explained by the production of Ideas never expressed before: ‘This can be put more precisely in terms of the relations between the material and expressive aspects of assemblages. The material aspect of an assemblage (see 8.2) corresponds to the kinds of element and their interactions that constitute the assemblage as individuating structure (we will use the term structure from here on to indicate the material aspect). Combinatorial production is structural. .. The expressive aspect is the sense an assemblage makes as a whole to all other individuals in its milieu. It is how it affects them and actually forces them to sense by merely existing. Sense, therefore, is multiple because it is inherently a product of multiple perspectives, that is, of an indefinite number of perspectives of all other individuals. .. As the expression of an assemblage depends on both its structure and its milieu, and as we are specifically interested in the relations between the structural and the expressive aspects of assemblages, we will neutralize the contribution of the milieu to the richness of expression by assuming for this discussion that it remains constant’ [p 188]. DPB: this reminds of Wolfram: randomness at the initial conditions, injected from outside, or generated by the system: here it is assumed that no randomness is injected. The relation between structure and expression cannot be assumed to be isomorphic: depending on the other individuals the expression can be different and different structures can turn out to have the same expression. To treat these processes as computation is a simplifying metaphor [p 189]. Wolfram: principle of computational equivalence: ‘In the terminology of assemblage theory, if this hypothesis is correct(and it seems that it is), relatively simple assemblages may produce arbitrarily complex expressions (that it, if they are not found to have trivially simple expression)’ [p 190]. DPB: tadaa! An addition is the computation of equivalent sophistication means that given a non obviously simple set of rules, a computation will follow, that, given time, will end up having the same computational sophistication as all other processes in nature. For assemblage theory this means that the variety of the expressions I not bound to the variety of the structures that produce them.

8.6.2 Innovation in Populations of Complex Individuals

8.6.3 Innovation Spaces

Chapter 9 Interactions

9.1 Understanding Interaction

By interaction we mean a sequence of actions exchanged among agents that is initiated by an agent and unfolds in a chain of effects that returns, eventually, to affect its point of origination through at least one path’ [p 199]. DPB: it might not be initiated by the agent, but outside of the system. If it is only one agent affecting the other then, or there is only one event, is it an interaction? If the initial action is misunderstood by the other agent, can it still be called an interaction? Agents connected along a closed path of activation necessarily interact; on such a path random activities may self-organize. If an assemblage individuates too fast, it may damage some function and die, and if it individuates too slow it will petrify and die.

9.2 Complex Adaptive Systems

A CAS is a heterogeneous population of interacting distributed and asynchronous agents: they are adapting their behavior to circumstances that change because of the behavior of other agents. A CAS is not a system in the classical sense because no goal or central principle of controller is assumed; the properties of the agents are variable and can be unpredictable. The general characteristics of CAS are agents’ properties such as connectivity, distributiveness, population size, heterogeneity, &c. In Holland’s model they are I-O systems (classifier systems). CAS are fields of individuation. 

9.3 Reciprocal Selection and Determination

In evolutionary dynamics, adaptation means the modification of structure and behavior so as to increase the probability of procreation (survival); fitness thus increases. A similar reasoning is deployed above (ch 7) to connect cognition to adaptive behavior in order to maintain the system’s autonomy. Such activities take place in the context of the system’s milieu and across its boundaries with it. No boundary then nothing to maintain. ‘Operating towards its continuation the agent’s activities must therefore consist of selection. First, selecting out all the non-relevant perturbations and second, biasing the effects of external perturbations towards increased fitness. .. for this scenario to make any sense at all and for the agent to have any chance to persist, it must be engaging in inteactions with its mileu. Interactions that allow it to correlate actions to their consequences. Furthermore, its future selections must, at least to some extent, be informed by the consequences of past selections’ [p 202]. DPB: a practical explanation of this mechanism. 

9.4 Cybernetics – The science of Interaction

Cybernetics is about interaction and communication. ‘It was already argued that if there is something rather than nothing (and without presuming the first) it is only on account of interactions’ [p 218]. ‘From this perspective, the most inclusive definition of cybernetics is the science of becoming through interactions’ [p 218]. 

9.5 The Open-Ended intelligence of CAS

So the answer to the question: How can we generate intelligence synthetically? is as follows. Take dynamic system whose laws are unchanging and single-valued, and whose size is so large that after it has gone to an equilibrium that involves only a small fraction of its total states [i.e., the variety remaining after achieving equilibrium], this small fraction is still large enough to allow room for a good deal of change and behavior. Let is go on for a long enough time to get to such an equilibrium. Then examine the equilibrium in detail. You will find that the states or forms in being are peculiarly able to survive against the changes induced by the laws. Split the equilibrium in two, call one part “organism” and the other part “environment”: you will find that this “organism” is peculiarly able to survive against the disturbances from this “environment”. The degree of adaptation and complexity that this organism can develop is bounded only by the size of the whole dynamic system and by the time over which it is allowed to progress towards equilibrium. Thus, as I said, every isolated determinate dynamic system will develop organisms that are adapted to their environments. There is thus no difficulty in principle, in developing synthetic organisms as complex or as intelligent as we please” (Ashby 1962)’ [p 227]. DPB: I like the imperative language, the clarity of it, and the advice.

Chapter 16 Conclusion

Open-ended intelligence means that (virtual) difference is the sufficient reason of all there is. All there is exists as a limit on the unfoldment of difference. Therefore difference itself is self-limiting and by that brings forth actual expression, objects, subjects, relations, concepts, images, ideas, systems and potentialities. Open ended intelligence is presented here via overlapping concepts: individuation, becoming, self-organization, thought sans image, cognition, and sense-making, each highlighting an aspect that is not given to definition. ‘The most significant innovation [of enactive cognition] is that since representations no longer play a central role, the role of the environment as a source of input recedes into the background. It now enters in explanations only on those occasions when systems undergo breakdowns or suffer events that cannot be satisfied by their structures. Accordingly, intelligence shifts from being the capacity to solve a problem to the capacity to enter into a shared world of significance (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 207)’ [p 426]. Weinbaum critiques that to share significance is nobody’s capacity, because the process that enables it precedes both the object and the subject. 

16.1 Horizons of Open-Ended Intelligence

16.1.2.2 Beyond Darwinism

Darwinism can explain smooth development but not the disruptions such as radical innovations. Niche construction is the shaping of the environment as a result of the activities of the system itself, that are of course a result of the shape of the (previous) environment, &c. And so the effect on the system is only partly genetic (memetic) and also depends on the Input from the environment. Niche construction is a process of individuation that involves parties with metastable identities. The concept of systemic / enactive cognition also captures niche construction. 

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PhD Candidate The Firm as an Emergent Phenomenon