Connections Through Time, Issue 17:
October - December 2002

**Some aspects of reality can only be known using
intuition - intuition
is** "the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of
rational processes". The
intellectual-rational-reasoning approach may simply be inadequate to describe,
even in principle, important aspects of our universe and of our lives.

Intellectual approaches for describing and predicting the behavior of our universe is currently the task of physics using the power of mathematics. (Chemistry, conventional biology and other disciplines based on mathematical models are within the broadly defined realm of physics.) Both physics and mathematics have grown tremendously to satisfy this audacious task.

However, there is an ever-growing body of experimental data that does not seem to be amenable to the mathematical approach of physics. The data concern intuitive knowledge and the power of intentions. (For example, see "The Conscious Universe"). Thus far, models which aim to capture the complex reality of consciousness have not been able to provide any new quantitative information - they do provide important insights, but not a physics model. Here are two ideas to ponder concerning whether physics models of consciousness and intuition are even possible.

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem

In 1931, Kurt Gödel proved the now-famous __incompleteness theorem__.
He showed that within any given mathematical structure (axioms, procedures,
etc), there would always be some propositions that couldn't be proven either
true or false within that mathematical structure itself. (Some true
propositions could be proven by moving to a broader mathematical structure; for
example, moving from the structure of integers to the broader structure of real
numbers.)

At the time, this theorem was extremely controversial: What do you mean that there are some true mathematical statements that can't be proven - heresy! This theorem has been ranked with Einstein's Theory of Relativity for its importance to mathematics and logic. There are now many proofs of this theorem, e.g., see here. Remember now, that mathematics is the language of physics. The implication is that any physics theory will be incomplete since additional true propositions may exist which cannot be proven true or false. What a bummer - it seems there will always be mysteries using the rational intellectual approach.

Rosen's "Complexity" View of Reality

Robert Rosen (1934-1998), was a theoretical biologist who strived to answer the question: "What is Life?". His work focused on appreciating the difference between living organisms and machines. Machines can be very intricate and include the most sophisticated computers and huge databases imaginable, however, they are still "simple" because they are algorithmic; machines can be broken apart and put back together again. Complexity is fundamentally different - perhaps the best way to appreciate complexity is using the following, slightly modified, quote:

*The Mexican sierra [fish] has a unique arrangement of spines in its dorsal fin. These can easily be counted,
sketched. classified and used to describe the sierra, but we could see the fish alive and
swimming, feel it plunge against the lines, drag it threshing over the rail, and even
finally eat it. And there is no reason why either approach should be inaccurate.
Spine-count description need not suffer because another approach is also used.
Perhaps,
out of the two approaches we thought there might emerge a picture more complete and even
more accurate that either alone could produce.
*
-- John Steinbeck, novelist, with Edward Ricketts, marine biologist (1941)

By definition, complex systems involve totally independent approaches to capture their reality. Intuition is an entirely different approach of knowing. Intellectual knowing has its strengths and weaknesses, and the same is true of intuitive knowing. Together, they provide a richer deeper appreciation of our reality. For example, intellectual processes include thinking, mathematically proving, and consciously planning things to do in the physical world. Intuitive processes involve other conscious aspects of life/reality such as experiencing emotions of joy, love, and awe, as well as a direct experience of beauty, morality, meaning, and of consciousness itself. Perhaps by nurturing the intellectual AND intuitive approaches to knowing, an even more accurate appreciation of our universe and ourselves will emerge.

Here are several abridged quotes from a July 1997 interview with Robert Rosen.

*... complex systems-- their nature is
that they avoid one mode of understanding of them. They have more
capabilities than any one formalism, say, can grasp. What you need to be able to do it is
to put all of these formalisms together to indicate the very rich mix of
properties that these have, which you wouldn't expect from approaching them in a
straightforward physical way.*

*The tendency over the last
several hundred years, perhaps since Newton, is to try to capture all of the world, the
external world, everything that science pertains to, in one principle - one way of grasping
reality. And that leads directly to the concept we call the "machine".
So
in this viewpoint, nature
is a big machine... There are many attractive features, which flow from the idea of the
machine. One of them is the idea of objectivity. Consciousness, or will, or volition, all of
the things which are characteristically human, play no part. If something can be done by a
machine, then it clearly doesn't involve will, doesn't involve subjectivity or
consciousness or anything like that. Complex
systems are not like that. If you try to compress a complex system into that kind of mold,
you'll miss it completely. You need consciousness. *

*... circles of
causality, circles of time; there was no way of straightening out causal loops.** **You have to have more than one time scale, more than one thing that you could call
"real time" in an anticipatory system. Something in the system
is running faster than real time in the system, or else you have no
anticipation-- the system is not anticipating what its own subsequent behavior
is going to be.*

*Everybody knows
that a machine-model is not
really quite enough to define an organism, and people express it in various ways, like "the
whole is greater than the sum of its parts". It is true. It is a very simple and still a good way to characterize the difference
between simplicity and complexity. You have to
understand that I consider biology by far the most interesting of the sciences, the most
mysterious of the sciences.*

*What makes something live?
That is really the great mystery in all of
science, in all of nature, and in all of thought.*

**Intuitive knowing is part of life - part of
the mystery and grace of life. Intuition
is what makes you more than a sophisticated nanotechnology machine.**

References

VCU Rosen's Complexity Discussion Group, VCU is the Virginia Commonwealth University

Interview with Dr. Robert Rosen

ROBERT ROSEN: THE WELL POSED QUESTION AND ITS ANSWER-WHY ARE ORGANISMS DIFFERENT FROM MACHINES?

EPISTEMOLOGY AND ROSEN’S MODELING RELATION, W. B. Dress, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Go to another section of this
issue:

Physics:
Nanotechnology
and ZPE
Applications:
Intuition Exploration (InE) with Feedback

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