3. Introduction to Intangible Affecters
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years ago I was a strict determinist. I
thought the beauty of science was that if we could know where everything was and
knew all the laws of physics that then we could predict where everything would
be. I believed that the Universe
was only material, energy and forces and that everything would find its
explanation through understanding physical nature.
As a matter of fact, I would probably be right if I blamed the advent of
scientific methodology, beginning in the time of Sir Francis Bacon six hundred
years ago, for our being oblivious of intangible affecters.
We turned so unswervingly to the idea that the final arbiter of
explanation for everything would be found in physics that, metaphorically, we
buried our heads in the sand of materialism.
It is now at the turn of the millennium at the height of our dogmatic
belief in the monistic ontology of materialism that we have come face to face
with ourselves. We are asking how
consciousness is possible and we are finding that physics cannot possibly hold
all the answers.
is important to you about intangible affecters is that they are affecting
everything that happens around you. They
are not physical in any way except for their effects.
They arise out of the relationships between the forms of physical things
but they also arise out of relationships between themselves. There is no spiritual realm but there are intangible
affecters (and spirits). You will
just have to stick with me if want to understand that.
And you should want to understand that.
How can you be real about understanding the world scientifically if you
are only looking at the physical aspect of how it works? Let me emphasize again that intangible affecters are
affecting physical events and that those effects are not explained by physics.
This does not mean that events can no longer be understood by science.
It just means that they cannot be understood by physics and the sciences
that are ultimately based in physics alone.
Intangible affecters are a new field in science.
It will seem revolutionary at its inception but with time it will become
ordinary in its application and we will look back and wonder how we could have
missed something so important and fundamental.
be put off if I take you into the subject at a casual pace.
It will pickup soon enough. It
has taken me years to change the epistemological perspectives of my mind to
understand them and to feel the confidence that I do now in explaining them to
you. As I have said, there will be
a science of intangible affecters but the most I can provide you with at the
moment is an awareness of them and an ontological explanation of their genesis
from a foundation in logic and science that you will be able to accept.
You will have trouble with the concepts because they go against the
hidden grain of your mind’s epistemological organization.
It is therefore important for me to first make the fact of intangible
affecters evident to you. After
that recognition is established, you then should have the impetus (if you care
about understanding) to want to know how they are possible and how they work.
might have discovered the existence of intangible affecters because I had my
sights on understanding consciousness. It
is so easy to believe that complex things do not need to be understood because
they are just too multifaceted to be practically analyzed.
I am talking about things such as societies, cultures and economics.
We conveniently believe that if we could take these things apart piece by
piece that we would find how everything could be explained through the laws of
physics (please assume that when I say the laws of physics I am including all
the laws of the hard sciences whose laws relate to the physical nature of
physical things). Because we make that assumption we don’t even begin to try
to explain those kinds of things or at least we didn’t until we decided that
it was time to understand what our minds are.
mind is complex but because it is also a natural phenomenon (not a product of
human culture) we are challenged to understand it.
We cannot pass it off as one of those arbitrarily complex things like
society, culture or economics. But,
thinking is like a society. They
are both organizations of dynamic relationships being carried on physical
substrates. We don’t find
consciousness by looking at the brain anymore than we find society by looking at
the buildings and people in a city. Each
is a highly evolved set of functional relationships.
Is it the purview of physics to describe these relationships? No. Does physics
describe or explain the specificity of functional relationships?
No. Do the functional
relationships built into a society determine how that society will behave?
Absolutely. Are functional
relationships what make a mind different than a brain?
It is not so obvious but the answer is yes.
We are not just talking about psychology here but more fundamentally
about thinking itself. The dynamic
functional relationships in the brain create the process of thinking, which,
when it occurs in experiential brain states, creates consciousness.
The relationships that create the mind are not physical processes as much
as they are functional processes. It
is in being circumspect about that difference that we become aware of function
(which is the specificity of relationship between things) as an intangible
affecter. Consciousness cannot be
explained unless we take into account the effect that functional relationships
have on physical events.
is possible that you may be of the perspective that a function must be related
to a purpose and must relate to someone’s intention.
That is not the way that I will use the word function.
I will use the word function to describe the specific relationships that
occur in an event. For example, the
function of rain waters plants only because it does, though it may have nothing
to do with any man’s intentions.
is not enough for you to think that I am just talking about ‘process’
because out of the effectual nature of relationships arises functions such as
our organisms and our ‘selves’. ‘Selves’
and organisms are much more than just process.
They are agents. They are
you and I. When I set out to do
something, it is not the nature of my physical organism that will cause it to
happen. The cause will be a set of
relationships that don’t even have a material presence.
The materials of my being will only play the very minor role of being the
carrier of those relationships. Lets
slow down and take this step-by-step. The first step is to make you familiar with the idea that
there are affecters other than physical affecters.
first became clued into the idea that there are other affecters when I was
musing one day about how wrapped up American society is with the automobile. My car is fifteen years old and I am horrified at the idea of
having to pay $20,000 to $30,000 for a new one. I know I can afford a new car far more easily than most
people who have them can. A lot of
those people are working two jobs to make ends meet.
Such sacrifice is indicative of how much self-images are wrapped up in
the kind of automobile one drives. Kids
are only too eager to grow up so they can drive the family car.
That’s when the family’s auto insurance goes up big time.
And then come the conflicts over who gets to use the automobile and
usually it is decided by getting another automobile.
That is a very partial list of effects that the automobile has on us at
the personal level of the individual but the automobile is an institution in
society that affects its very organization.
drive to work, to shop, to visit or just for recreation.
The better the automobiles and the roads that we have, the further we are
willing to drive. Families are
spread far and wide because the automobile permits us to drive over to a
relative’s house for a visit. We
can enjoy living in the country because we can drive into town for work. Of course we have to pay for those expensive roads with our
taxes. An incumbent politician will
take advantage of our obsession with the automobile and have the roads paved
just before elections to have us vote for him/her. Of course, automobiles create a great deal of pollution and
we have to deal with that too. But
nobody is about to give up his or her automobile.
The advertising industry is constantly bombarding us with enticements to
buy a new one and the automobile manufacturing industry is one of the pillars of
the economy. I could go on and on
describing the effects the automobile has on our society and on us as
we driving the automobile or is the automobile driving us?
I was recognizing that the ‘automobile’ was an institution of
relationships affecting the way that we live and the world that we live in. It seemed that it was the relationships themselves (that I am
calling the automobile) that were affecting us. If I use an automobile to go somewhere it is because there is
the potential of my driving an automobile there over roads built for
automobiles. I probably would not
make the trip if there were not an automobile and a road to take me there.
These special relationships are affecters that physics cannot possibly
explain because they are not physical. It
is not the road and the car themselves that make such a trip possible but rather
it is the specific relationship of a
car to a road. That relationship
depends on the specific relationships that make a car what it is and that make a
road what it is, too. Lets not
forget the specific relationship that I have to the car as an educated driver.
If I could not drive the car, I might not make the trip.
fact that it was the relationships themselves acting as affecters was not so
obvious to me six years ago. I
could not conceive then of an intangible thing like a relationship having a
physical effect. What was obvious was that the ‘automobile’ was having an
impact on society and myself that could not be explained by physics.
There was too much physical dissociation between the things that were
being functionally related for physics to explain why they were happening.
in the world was I thinking about spending $20,000 for a new car when my old one
worked just fine? Even if there is
a physics underlying the institution of the automobile, there is no physics to
explain the principles of a social self-image and why I might want to buy a
Subaru Forester. There are no laws
of physics relating to Subaru Foresters. Does
physics even recognize what a car or a road is? It doesn’t call some activity a trip or even my use of a
car driving. These are
relationships and not the specialty of physics, which is a generalization of the
regularities of physical nature. Physics
might presume to explain how these things can happen relative to the forces we
posit to physical nature but it doesn’t explain why I might want a particular
car. I believe that there is truly
a reason (a causal explanation) as to why I want a particular car or any car but
the explanation is not to be found in physics.
My choice of a particular car has a lot to do with how I view myself and
how others view me and the reason I want any car is so I can get somewhere I
want to go. None of this would be
so if the specificity of relationships were not affecting physical events.
reason this was not so obvious to me six years ago was because I was stuck on
the idea that only forces could cause effects.
When a car runs over someone and kills him or her do we say that it was a
set of intangible relationships that caused his death? No. We say that
being hit by the car caused his or her death.
We focus on the physical aspect of the event.
Yet as time goes on, in our minds we begin to think of the driver as the
cause of the victim’s death. Now
we are focusing on the relationship of the driver to the car as the cause.
We think that there was a specific way in which he of she drove the car
that was the cause. We also consider that it was the kind of person that he
or she was in the circumstances that he found himself or herself that
contributed to the cause. So in the
end we do believe that it was a set of relationships that caused the victim’s
don’t blame the material of the Universe.
We blame the relationships of the things into which it is formed. We blame the driver, his or her mind, and his or her
relationship to the car, the car, the road and the victim’s relationship to
all of the above.
driver can admit that the accident was his fault but then again what is a
driver? A person is a set of
intangible relationships that creates agency and can accept social
responsibility. There is nothing
substantial at the bottom of those relationships that is the person.
It is the set of intangible relationships themselves that have accepted
responsibility. In the final
analysis, there is nothing except a transient pattern of events that we hold
responsible. We are not going to
blame the material of the Universe. How
naïve can we be to believe that this is a world determined by physical nature
blithely assume all things are connected together in ways explainable by physics
alone. Can physics explain the
circumstances of the accident above? Can
it explain cars, roads, drivers and the relationships between them? There is no physics for my preferences for certain makes and
models. How do we explain those
seemingly intangible influences scientifically? We don’t even try. We
ignore them and assume that somewhere buried in the complexity of things that
the laws of physics are still the ultimate arbiters of the explanation of all
Suppose that I am about to buy the car I have dreamed about for two
years. My finances are finally all
worked out when I get a call from San Francisco informing me that my son has
been in a traffic accident. He
needs immediate and expensive surgery. Do you believe that physics can explain
how my mind’s progression towards buying a car is interrupted by a phone call
informing me of an accident in California and thereby changing my priorities?
see how that physics might have occurred. A
voice, that is a vibration of air molecules, contacts a device that uses the
energy of the vibrations to modulate an electrical signal that is then used to
produce a radio frequency signal sampled so many times a second and sent to a
satellite that relays it to Hawaii. It,
whatever it might be at this point, is then sent to my telephone and is decoded
and recoded into an air vibration that stimulates sensation in my ear.
That seems more like physics but what did it have to do with changing
my priorities? Obviously,
something more than energy was transmitted by that telephone call.
really is only one place to go with this so let me cut to it.
What were being processed in my head were symbols.
These were specific patterns in the signals that were being transmitted
to my ear on the vehicle of a physical substrate taking the form of the special
relationships of telephone communication. The
normal specificity of the dynamic relationships that subserve the process of
thinking did not change much on receiving the call but the functional path of
the symbols being processed by those relationships changed dramatically.
In short, my plans changed. The
specificities of the dynamic relationships of the materials of the brain were
the carrier or substrate that supported the thought process, which in turn was
the carrier of the functional path or relationships of the symbols.
The functional path of the telephone conversation flowed through the
interactions of symbols. The
information contained in the symbols was manifest by being vested first in the
patterns of modulation of the telephone transmission signal and then in the
specific patterns of brain activity. (To
simplify, I am going to say that a particular brain form represents the information contained in a symbol.)
Brain activity is organized into specific patterns that are processing
algorithms. Brain activity is
itself dependent on the organization of tissues, which in turn are dependent
upon the organization of molecules. They
in turn are dependent upon the specific organization of atoms.
at the bottom of all this specificity of organization is physics.
The processes created by the specificity of the brain’s organization
are in fact controlling the physical events in the brain. It is not the other way around.
The physical substrate merely carries these intangible processes but it
does not limit what they can process or cause what those processes themselves
can cause to happen. The intangible processes are not only thinking.
They are also the underlying organizations that we call atoms, molecules,
cells, tissues, and the brain. The
more complex the organization the more effect the organization has on physical
become represented by brain forms through conditioning.
A symbol’s meaning is created by the symbol’s context, that is, its
functional relationship to other symbols. One
set of context is the immediate symbol environment of the symbol, the other
symbols in the functional path. A
second set of context is memory and a third set is our navigation system’s
interrelationship with the external environment, which it represents. The second and third sets put symbols into broader contexts,
which provide the relationships that give meaning to the symbols and provide
algorithms for their processing. The
information of a symbol is an intangible characteristic of the underlying brain
form. What it represents is not a material fact in the brain form, nor does what
it represents resemble the brain form in any way except maybe as an analog of
its temporal spatial pattern. The
meaning and information of a symbol is an abstract intangible product of
rules for how an individual processes symbols are brain patterns themselves
mostly derived from his or her experience conditioned into his or her brain
forms. Some of the rules for
processing are hardwired and hereditary. They
resulted from conditioning through evolutionary natural selection. Therefore,
the individual’s learned and hard-wired programs (that he or she is endowed
with genetically), being the set of algorithms that process the information
contained in symbols, also carry conditioned and hereditary biases.
That is exactly why some of the concepts that I am expressing in
explaining intangible affecters and consciousness are difficult to understand.
Thinking is not a purely logical function.
It depends on both neurological processes and an epistemological
structure of (processing) relationships that are axiomatic and tainted relative
to truth. You can only escape such
bias when the epistemological structure in your mind is changed fundamentally.
You will only understand consciousness and intangible affecters when the
algorithms you use to process the information reflect accurately what the
circumstances of reality are.
functional path of thought flows through the brain forms that are symbols and
rules and also shapes new symbols and new rules.
That was how my mind was able to change my plans.
The physical energy of the material brain provides the momentum to keep
the functional path moving but the path itself is controlled by the rules vested
in the functional path both through conditioning and heredity.
The rules change the physical patterns of the neurological activity of
the brain so that the brain is continuously processing different information.
The functional path is the intangible aspect of the process and is what
we call and experience as our minds. The
mind controls what the brain is processing.
The mind is an intangible affecter controlling the brain.
The mind is the functional path. The
brain is the physical path.
That was very clear for me, but I have no doubt you are thinking
“What?” What I just did was to
show you how something that is nothing can effect something that is physical.
The explanation is far from complete but the essential concept is there
in full. You need to study the
argument because we will be carrying the implications a long ways.
The setting of the mind is one of the easiest places to catch a glimpse
of what an intangible affecter is but we are going to find them in everything.
You want to make yourself comfortable with the argument now.
intangible affecter is not nothing. It
is just not something material/physical/substantial. Nor is it something in some other than physical realm if
there are such other realms. (In other words, it doesn’t exist in some
spiritual realm.) It exists by virtue of its effect.
Intangible affecters only exist as
the specific interactions of things in a dynamic context. They
have no separate existence of their own. They are the specificity of events carried on the substrate of material
things. The events are more
than the mere interactions of physically related objects. Their specificity creates functions, functions such as our
specificity of an event sets the stage for the next thing to happen.
For example, if the specific events leading to the formation of DNA did
not happen, it is likely that the earth would be barren of life.
The functions of DNA and evolution were crucial to our existence.
It is not the domain of physics to explain function but more importantly
it is not physical nature alone that determines specific events.
There has been a functional path of events being carried on the physical
substrate of the physical Universe ever since the time the presumed symmetry of
the Universe was broken. The
specificity of events that occurred has forever been shaping the events
occurring. This is an active
relationship wherein an event’s specificity affects the outcome of events just
as does the innate physical nature of material. Function is interacting with physical nature in determining
what happens. This is not
understood. When it is understood
there will evolve a science of intangible affecters parallel to physics that
will be useful for understanding such things as societies, culture, economic
trends, evolution, organisms, “selves”, consciousness and other complex and
simpler organizations. We are going
to develop the principles of intangible affecters sufficiently to understand
begin with, let’s work on making the distinction between a physical path of
events and a functional path of events. The
physical path and the functional path are concurrent in all events in the
Universe. All physical events are
interconnected in a continuous unfolding of the physical Universe.
The functional path, on the other hand, is carried on this physical
substrate and can be continuous at times and discontinuous at other times.
The functional path is no more than the patterns that are playing on the
material Universe. Imagine the Universe as a sea of energy in which its present
state of formation is our world today. If
you were to melt down the patterns in that sea of energy by heating it back up
to the level of the Big Bang, then everything that we recognize as the world
would disappear, back into a non-differentiated state.
It is certain that evolution would not take the same path cooling down
again. It would produce a different
Universe and not one in which I existed.
is the broadest view of the functional path but we can consider the functional
path in much more mundane circumstances. For
example, consider an event of a storm blowing down utility lines.
The physical world didn’t become discontinuous; it didn’t disappear.
On the other hand, the ball game on the television went off, my
conversation with my daughter in Texas was broken, the food in the refrigerator
is getting warm without refrigeration, and one can’t call on the telephone to
find out what is being done about the situation.
The functional path of many things has become discontinuous.
It means that many things that might have happened didn’t or won’t
happen. Of course from a purely
physical point of view nothing stopped. The
storm interrupted the functional path of things going on but it did not
interrupt the physical path. Some functional paths became discontinuous and
other functional paths were begun.
storm is a pattern in the sea of energy that is the Universe.
It is a major intangible affecter. Its
energy is that of its substance but its effect is created by the relationship of
its form to other forms. The wave
of destruction that it causes is relative to the way that its form impacts other
forms in the sea of energy.
transient patterns supervening on the sea of energy are the functional path.
These dynamic patterns are merely the intangible relationships of
transient forms but they are what the world and we are.
The interactions of physical forms are at the boundary of the physical
path and the functional path. Physics
describes the regularities of physical nature as regards energy and the physical
forces. Function is a description
of the specificity of forms and their interactions.
From that boundary, the functional path grows into a world of its own
with its own rules and emergent properties.
These relationships are intangible to begin with but they also build on
each other into very complex forms that include qualities that are entirely
abstract yet effect physical events. An
organism, for example, is a hierarchical ordering of forms within higher levels
of forms or, we could say, of patterns within patterns.
Forms co-opt physical nature for their empowerment to affect physical
events but then they add the effects of their own configuration to the result. In
an organism, the forms that create gates and timers set up the coordination of
organ systems. Coordination is obviously an emergent property that has no
explanation in the vocabulary of physics. Coordination
is a functional or intangible affecter of physical events and also of intangible
are intangible affecters because their
effectual nature exists only in a time lapsed pattern of activity. Patterns of
activity do not exist substantially in the moment, as do physical things.
Let’s consider a rifle for an example of these ideas.
Let’s say that the trigger, hammer, firing pin and barrel are all
objects made of steel. They are all
separate objects but they function together as a rifle.
If you remove the firing pin, the rest of the parts will not function as
a rifle. This demonstrates that the
firing pin is crucial to the RIFLE (RIFLE = function of the rifle). If you replace the firing pin with a blob of steel, the RIFLE
will not function. This
demonstrates that the form of the firing pin is crucial to the RIFLE.
If you replace the firing pin with one made of hard ceramic, the assembly
of objects will again be a RIFLE. This
demonstrates that the form of the firing pin is more crucial than its material.
It is clear that the form and functioning of the firing pin is a part of
the cause of the RIFLE firing a bullet. The
firing pin’s function is a synthesis of the effect of the firing pin’s form
on the dynamic nature of the firing pin’s materials and the firing pin’s
interactive relationship with the other parts of the RIFLE.
call functions, which are the specific relationships that affect how the dynamic
natures of material things are expressed, intangible affecters.
Relationships are intangible. The
intangible aspects of the RIFLE are in the specificity of relationships of its
physical components and their interactions.
They are in specific dimensions, shapes, distances apart, times of action
and the pattern of interactions. Imagine a rifle. Next, imagine that only the
outline of the rifle’s components is left after everything material about the
rifle is pushed into a hidden dimension so that it is like a schematic drawing.
Then imagine the RIFLE firing in this schematic form.
This is what the RIFLE (the function of the rifle) is.
(The schematic outlines were merely a prop to get across the idea of
relationships as different than their material carriers).
The functional role of the firing pin is intangible yet it is effectual
and essential to the RIFLE. The
RIFLE itself is an intangible affecter, too, at a higher level of organization.
A RIFLE was used to assassinate President Kennedy, an event that had an
immense impact on the physical and functional paths of the world.
nature and functions determine the kind of events that can happen between
things. The interactive relationships between forms are intangible affecters.
Everything that is physical is in a form.
Therefore an intangible affecter is created in every physical event.
In every physical event, physical nature and function are co-affecters
determining the outcome of the event. Events
are never isolated implying that they are always in a broader context.
The nature of function is such that a broader context is a network of
indirect relationships affecting an event.
The relationships in a broader context may also be complex including
abstract affecters such as control, timing, coordination, anticipation, intent,
representation, computation, navigation, agency, dependence, determination and
every other quality that we recognize as an affecter.
Complex intangible affecters can have dominant control over events such
that they appear to use the physical substrate as a mere vehicle to their ends.
It is the capacity of intangible affecters to shape events that makes the
kind of world in which human culture exists.
Physical nature hardly contributes to the functions of our lives except
to set limits on what the physical substrate carrying the functional
relationships can do. The important
shapers of life and human culture are the relationships between things.
Even when these relationships are abstract they are still true affecters.
These principles are essential to understanding “self” and consciousness.
is very naïve to think that physics could be the final arbiter of the
explanation of events. If it were
merely physical nature that determined what happened, then as much as I believed
that I could plan and articulate a plan, it would be a falsehood.
How could I make choices if physical laws determine what I will do?
And if I can’t make choices, why do I believe that I do?
I am not that stupid. We
know that we are making choices. We
just don’t understand how we do it due to our illusion that physics is the
final arbiter of all explanations of events.
can affect other relationships. That
is, something intangible can affect something else that is intangible.
Suppose a group of people wants to go to New York.
They are put in a vehicle with a propulsion system.
That is one set of relationships. The
vehicle is designed with wings so that it can fly.
That is another set of relationships or one intangible thing affecting
another intangible thing. You might
say that it is arbitrary where I divide up the relationships in an airplane.
Maybe so, but the idea of conveying people in a vehicle came long before
the relationships that enabled the vehicle to fly.
is an event in which systems having different functions are associated in an
organism. The difference in the evolution of an airplane and an
organism sheds light on what makes humans so original in evolution.
Nature could only develop interdependent systems of relationships such as
in an organism in contemporaneous evolution.
Evolution is a blind creator. It
does not have a mind that can represent or manipulate a design for creation but
it did create man with a mind that could. The
supporting systems of relationships that made this possible include being
someone (a ‘self’) with agency (the means to affect other things), free will
(a ‘selfish’ desire to affect other things) and a navigation system
(consciousness) to facilitate movement.
distinctions of function are not made in explaining events through physics. It is not a firing pin in the RIFLE. It is steel object a. or b.
If we describe the function of the firing pin then we have moved into the
description of specific relationships or intangible affecters.
An intangible affecter depends on the physical substrate for its energy.
Its effect comes from the specificity of the form of the physical
me illustrate this for you using a common form of relationship: the lock and
key. When my path brings me to a
locked door the flow of events reaches a critical juncture whereat the
availability of the relationship vested in the right key determines a course of
events that allows me to go through the doorway with little application of
physical force. The relationship of
the key to the lock was the major affecter of the event.
A narrow-minded physicist may ignore the fact that the key in the lock
mediated the amount of energy needed to open the door.
There was merely the event. But
then, he would be ignoring the specificity of the relationships and their
significance. He would only be
looking at the physics. He would be
saying that to physics it doesn’t matter if you had to break down the door
with a sledgehammer. (Notice that
the affecter is not the key itself or the lock itself but is rather the
relationship of the key to the lock.)
ignoring the specific effects of relationships, all the physicist sees is
physics. He does not note that the outcome of events would be
different if the circumstances were different.
It means that when he tries to explain consciousness, for example, he
does not recognize the physical effects of intangible relationships and
therefore finds that his physics is inadequate to explain consciousness.
Agency in the form of my ‘self’ that is able to make choices and act
upon them is an example of where physics is totally inadequate to explain
events. Agency is the result of the
organization of relationships into complex intangible affecters.
biology reveals that most all of the foundations of life’s processes depend
upon lock and key relationships. At
the cell wall, the passage of nutrients and wastes, hormones and
neurotransmitters, glandular secretions and medicine are mostly lock and key
relationships. The lock and key are a type in the taxonomy of intangible
affecters. Lock and key relationships generally serve as gate openers for other
events. Add another intangible, the
timer, to facilitate coordination to the lock and key and you have the basis of
design for very complex systems. Scientists
have understood many relationships involved in complex systems, yet they don’t
recognize that functions are affecters. They
deal with them as affecters but vaguely assume that their effects will be
explained by physics.
perspective prevents science from understanding how complex systems are built
from abstract relationships. It is
not so much of a problem when only physical relationships are considered but
intangible affecters are also built from the relationships of intangible things.
If you want to understand why the words of this text are having an effect
on you, you will have to go much farther than the mere fact of their
configuration out there in the external world.
Very little of the event of your reading and understanding these words
will fall into the domain explained by physics. There is absolutely nothing physical about understanding.
It is entirely manifested in a configuration of functional relationships.
Similarly, we don’t recognize that agency is a brain form that creates
agency because we are looking for a physical explanation.
The study of intangible affecters must find its place along side that of
physics if we are to understand consciousness.
angle at which a billiard ball hits the billiard table determines the further
course of the billiard ball. That
is the perspective of physics. The
billiard table is also the agent that
contains the billiard balls and redirects their courses in the game of
billiards. That perspective looks at the function
of the billiard table. It is hard
to see agency in such a simple relationship, but as the complexity of
relationship increases, agency becomes more apparent.
Take a hand for example. The
specificity of relationships entrained in the form a hand mold the dynamic
nature of its materials. Like the
function of a billiard table, the specificity of relationships that form a hand
are woven like an intangible glove so as to contain and direct the physical
nature of the materials of the hand. My
hand defies gravity by grasping and picking up things that are trying to fall.
This is an effectual emergent property created by the specificity of
relationships in a hand. The idea in my brain of ‘wanting to pick something
up’ is not much different than the hand, which it directs; they are both
specific dynamic relationships in a physical substrate.
The idea of ‘wanting to pick something up’ is a relationship through
which physical energy is channeled to effect action.
as a specificity of relationships creates the emergent properties of the hand,
so too, a specificity of relationships in the brain creates the emergent
properties of a ‘self’ such as you or I.
The ‘self’ seems to be more abstract and therefore more baffling than
a hand. If you didn’t have a familiarity with hands and a hand were
in a box like the ‘self’ is in a head and all you could see was a cornucopia
of ‘handmade’ products coming out the box without seeing the mechanism
making them, it would seem just a baffling.
We hear and see the products of the ‘self’ in words, ideas and
behavior. They express the emergent
properties of the specificity of relationships of brain forms.
It may seem that I initiate activities by being at their inception. That
impression is commensurate with the nature of functional relationships.
The functional way in which we think uses the organization of an action
plan, which is a subject / doing some action / (usually to some object).
It is the structural relationships of this form that makes it seem that I
am at the inception of my actions. If
we can first see how it is that we as ‘selves’ are organized then we will be
better able to understand our experience of consciousness.