Our new journal Philosophies is devoted to the search for a synthesis of philosophical and scientific inquiry. It promotes philosophical work derived from the experience of diverse scientific disciplines. [...].
Contemporary Natural Philosophy is understood here as a project of the pursuit of the integrated description of reality distinguished by the precisely formulated criteria of objectivity, and by the assumption that the statements of this description can be assessed only as true or false according to clearly specified verification procedures established with the exclusive goal of the discrimination between these two logical values, but not with respect to any other norms or values established by the preferences of human collectives or (...) by the individual choices. This distinction assumes only logical consistency, but not completeness. Completeness is desirable, but may be impossible. This paper is not intended as a comprehensive program for the development of the Contemporary Natural Philosophy but rather as a preparation for such program advocating some necessary revisions and extensions of the methodology currently considered as the scientific method. This is the actual focus of the paper and the reason for the reference to Baconian _idola mentis_. Francis Bacon wrote in _Novum Organum_ about the fallacies obstructing progress of science. The present paper is an attempt to remove obstacles for the Contemporary Natural Philosophy project to which we have assigned the names of the Idols of the Number, the Idols of the Common Sense, and the Idols of the Elephant. (shrink)
The INBIOSA project brings together a group of experts across many disciplines who believe that science requires a revolutionary transformative step in order to address many of the vexing challenges presented by the world. It is INBIOSA’s purpose to enable the focused collaboration of an interdisciplinary community of original thinkers. This paper sets out the case for support for this effort. The focus of the transformative research program proposal is biology-centric. We admit that biology to date has been more fact-oriented (...) and less theoretical than physics. However, the key leverageable idea is that careful extension of the science of living systems can be more effectively applied to some of our most vexing modern problems than the prevailing scheme, derived from abstractions in physics. While these have some universal application and demonstrate computational advantages, they are not theoretically mandated for the living. A new set of mathematical abstractions derived from biology can now be similarly extended. This is made possible by leveraging new formal tools to understand abstraction and enable computability. [The latter has a much expanded meaning in our context from the one known and used in computer science and biology today, that is "by rote algorithmic means", since it is not known if a living system is computable in this sense (Mossio et al., 2009).] Two major challenges constitute the effort. The first challenge is to design an original general system of abstractions within the biological domain. The initial issue is descriptive leading to the explanatory. There has not yet been a serious formal examination of the abstractions of the biological domain. What is used today is an amalgam; much is inherited from physics (via the bridging abstractions of chemistry) and there are many new abstractions from advances in mathematics (incentivized by the need for more capable computational analyses). Interspersed are abstractions, concepts and underlying assumptions “native” to biology and distinct from the mechanical language of physics and computation as we know them. A pressing agenda should be to single out the most concrete and at the same time the most fundamental process-units in biology and to recruit them into the descriptive domain. Therefore, the first challenge is to build a coherent formal system of abstractions and operations that is truly native to living systems. Nothing will be thrown away, but many common methods will be philosophically recast, just as in physics relativity subsumed and reinterpreted Newtonian mechanics. -/- This step is required because we need a comprehensible, formal system to apply in many domains. Emphasis should be placed on the distinction between multi-perspective analysis and synthesis and on what could be the basic terms or tools needed. The second challenge is relatively simple: the actual application of this set of biology-centric ways and means to cross-disciplinary problems. In its early stages, this will seem to be a “new science”. This White Paper sets out the case of continuing support of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for transformative research in biology and information processing centered on paradigm changes in the epistemological, ontological, mathematical and computational bases of the science of living systems. Today, curiously, living systems cannot be said to be anything more than dissipative structures organized internally by genetic information. There is not anything substantially different from abiotic systems other than the empirical nature of their robustness. We believe that there are other new and unique properties and patterns comprehensible at this bio-logical level. The report lays out a fundamental set of approaches to articulate these properties and patterns, and is composed as follows. -/- Sections 1 through 4 (preamble, introduction, motivation and major biomathematical problems) are incipient. Section 5 describes the issues affecting Integral Biomathics and Section 6 -- the aspects of the Grand Challenge we face with this project. Section 7 contemplates the effort to formalize a General Theory of Living Systems (GTLS) from what we have today. The goal is to have a formal system, equivalent to that which exists in the physics community. Here we define how to perceive the role of time in biology. Section 8 describes the initial efforts to apply this general theory of living systems in many domains, with special emphasis on crossdisciplinary problems and multiple domains spanning both “hard” and “soft” sciences. The expected result is a coherent collection of integrated mathematical techniques. Section 9 discusses the first two test cases, project proposals, of our approach. They are designed to demonstrate the ability of our approach to address “wicked problems” which span across physics, chemistry, biology, societies and societal dynamics. The solutions require integrated measurable results at multiple levels known as “grand challenges” to existing methods. Finally, Section 10 adheres to an appeal for action, advocating the necessity for further long-term support of the INBIOSA program. -/- The report is concluded with preliminary non-exclusive list of challenging research themes to address, as well as required administrative actions. The efforts described in the ten sections of this White Paper will proceed concurrently. Collectively, they describe a program that can be managed and measured as it progresses. (shrink)
This is a short presentation by the Guest Editors of the series of Special Issues of the journal _Philosophies_ under the common title “Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies” in which we present Part 2. The series will continue, and the call for contributions to the next Special Issue will appear shortly.
The ability of an agent to overcome limitations caused by complexity can be identified with intelligence. Yet, the study of complexity is dominated by the issues not really associated with authentic intelligence. In search of the methods to overcome limitations of complexity it is necessary to find a sufficiently general conceptual framework for its study, to identify its characteristics and sources, and then to explore alternatives to the currently used methods. The present paper is using for this purpose the conceptual (...) framework of information, its integration, and dynamics developed by the author in his earlier publications. Using this framework, complexity is characterized in both quantitative and qualitative ways, and in both static and dynamic perspectives. The main objective is to propose an approach to transcending limitations of complexity through reverse engineering of the effectiveness in overcoming complexity by natural, living organisms. Since the most striking characteristic of life is its hierarchic organization, the use of multi-level hierarchic information systems in information processing is explored. Theoretical design of such multi-level systems becomes possible with the use of generalized Turing machines as components performing concurrent computation on all levels of the hierarchy. (shrink)
Analogy belongs to the class of concepts notorious for a variety of definitions generating continuing disputes about their preferred understanding. Analogy is typically defined by or at least associated with similarity, but as long as similarity remains undefined this association does not eliminate ambiguity. In this paper, analogy is considered synonymous with a slightly generalized mathematical concept of similarity which under the name of tolerance relation has been the subject of extensive studies over several decades. In this approach, analogy can (...) be mathematically formalized in terms of the sequence of binary relations of increased generality, from the identity, equivalence, tolerance, to weak tolerance relations. Each of these relations has cryptomorphic presentations relevant to the study of analogy. The formalism requires only two assumptions which are satisfied in all of the earlier attempts to formulate adequate definitions which met expectations of the intuitive use of the word analogy in general contexts. The mathematical formalism presented here permits theoretical analysis of analogy in the contrasting comparison with abstraction, showing its higher level of complexity, providing a precise methodology for its study and informing philosophical reflection. Also, arguments are presented for the legitimate expectation that better understanding of analogy can help mathematics in establishing a unified and universal concept of a structure. (shrink)
From the Philosophies journal program, one of the main aims of the journal is to help establish a new unity in diversity in human knowledge, which would include both “Wissen” (i.e., “Wissenschaft”) and “sc¯ıre” (i.e., “science”). As is known, “Wissenshaft” (the pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship) is a broader concept of knowledge than “science”, as it involves all kinds of knowledge,including philosophy, and not exclusively knowledge in the form of directly testable explanations and predictions. The broader notion of scholarship (...) incorporates an understanding and articulation of the role of the learner and the process of the growth of knowledge and its development, rather than only the final product and its verification and validation. In other words, it is a form of knowledge that is inclusive of both short-term and long-term perspectives; it is local and global, critical and hypothetical (speculative), breaking new ground. This new synthesis or rather re-connection of knowledge is expected to resonate with basic human value systems, including cultural values. Since knowledge tends to spontaneously fragment while it grows, we take existing diversity as a resource and a starting point for a new synthesis. The idea of broad, inclusive knowledge is in fact not so new. From the beginning, natural philosophy included all contemporary knowledge about nature. Newton was a natural philosopher, as were Bohr, Einstein, Prigogine, Weizsäcker, and Wheeler—to name but a few. Today, the unifying picture of the natural/physical world is sorely missing among the isolated silos of particular scientific domains, each with its own specific ontologies, methodologies, and epistemologies. From the profound need for connected and common knowledge, new trends towards synthesis have emerged in the last decades. One major theme is complexity, especially when applied to biology or medicine, which helps us to grasp the importance of connectedness between present-day disparate pieces of knowledge—frameworks, theories, approaches, etc. Related to this is the emergence of network science, which studies structures of nodes (actors) and edges as connections between them. This book is connecting work on contemporary natural philosophy and its connections with existing philosophies, sciences and other knowledge fields. (shrink)
Modern information communication technology eradicates barriers of geographic distances, making the world globally interdependent, but this spatial globalization has not eliminated cultural fragmentation. The Two Cultures of C.P. Snow (that of science– technology and that of humanities) are dri6ing apart even faster than before, and they themselves crumble into increasingly specialized domains. Disintegrated knowledge has become subservient to the competition in technological and economic race leading in the direction chosen not by the reason, intellect, and shared value-based judgement, but rather (...) by the whims of autocratic leaders or fashion controlled by marketers for the purposes of political or economic dominance. If we want to restore the authority of our best available knowledge and democratic values in guiding humanity, first we have to reintegrate scattered domains of human knowledge and values and offer an evolving and diverse vision of common reality unified by sound methodology. This collection of articles responds to the call from the journal Philosophies to build a new, networked world of knowledge with domain specialists from different disciplines interacting and connecting with other knowledge-and-values-producing and knowledge-and-values- consuming communities in an inclusive, extended, contemporary natural–philosophic manner. In this process of synthesis, scientific and philosophical investigations enrich each other—with sciences informing philosophies about the best current knowledge of the world, both natural and human-made—while philosophies scrutinize the ontological, epistemological, and methodological foundations of sciences, providing scientists with questions and conceptual analyses. This is all directed at extending and deepening our existing comprehension of the world, including ourselves, both as humans and as societies, and humankind. -/- Print copies (17. (shrink)
The study of information based on the approach of Shannon was detached from problems of meaning. Also, it did not allow analysis of the structural characteristics of information, nor describe the way structures carry information. An outline of a different theory of information, including its semantics, was earlier proposed by the author. This theory was using closure spaces to model information. In the present paper, structures (called syllogistics) underlying syllogistic reasoning as well as ethnoscientific classifications are identified together with the (...) conditions for the lattice of closed subsets describing information to allow its existence. The structures can be used for logical analysis outside of language at the more general level of information, which in turn can be applied to the description of semantic relations in the context of information. (shrink)
Despite the continuous emphasis on globalization, we witness increasing divisions and divisiveness in all domains of human activities. One of the reasons, if not the main one, is the intellectual fragmentation of humanity, compared in the title to the failed attempt at building the Biblical Tower of Babel. The attempts to reintegrate worldview, fragmented by the specialization of education and expected to be achieved through reforms in curricula at all levels of education, were based on the assumption that the design (...) of a curriculum should focus on the wide distribution of subjects of study, as if the distribution was the goal. The key point is not the distribution of themes, but the development of skills in the integration of knowledge. The quantitative assessment of the width of knowledge by the number of disciplines is of secondary importance. We cannot expect the miracle that students without any intellectual tools developed for this purpose would perform the job of integration, which their teachers do not promote or demonstrate, and which they cannot achieve for themselves. There are many other reasons for the increasing interest in making inquiries interdisciplinary, but there is little progress in the methodology of the integration of knowledge. This paper is a study of the transition from multidisciplinarity to interdisciplinarity, and further, to transdisciplinarity, with some suggestions regarding the use of methodological tools of structuralism and the choice of a conceptual framework. (shrink)