Author Topic: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.  (Read 6495 times)

Kai

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EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« on: April 26, 2010, 03:12:21 pm »
Taken from the end of Chapter three from Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge.

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And to others concerned about the growing dissolution and irrelevance of the intelligentsia, which is indeed alarming, I suggest there have always been two kinds of original thinkers, those who upon viewing disorder try to create order, and those who upon encountering order try to protest it by creating disorder. The tension between the two is what drives learning forward. It lifts us upward through a zigzagging trajectory of progress. And in the Darwinian contest of ideas, order always wins, because--simply--that is the way the real world works.

Nevertheless, here is a solute to the post-modernists. As today's celebrants of corybantic Romanticism, they enrich culture. They say to the rest of us: Maybe just maybe, you are wrong. Their ideas are like sparks from firework explosions that travel away in all directions, devoid of following energy, soon to wink out in the dimensionless dark. Yet a few will endure long enough to cast light on unexpected subjects. That is one reason to think well of post-modernism, even as it menaces rational thought. Another is the relief it affords those who have chosen not to encumber themselves with a scientific education. Another is the small industry it has created within philosophy and literary studies. Still another, the one that counts the most, is the unyielding critique of traditional scholarship it provides. We will always need post-modernists or their rebellious equivalents. For what better way to strengthen organized knowledge than continually to defend it from hostile forces? John Stewart Mill correctly noted that teacher and learner alike fall asleep at their posts when there is no enemy in the field. And if somehow, against all the evidence, against all reason, the linchpin falls out and everything is reduced to epistemological confusion, we will find the courage to admit that the post-modernists were right, and in the best spirit of the Enlightenment, we will start over again. Because, as the great mathematician David Hilbert once said, capturing so well that part of the human spirit expressed through the Enlightenment, Wir mussen wissen. Wir werden wissen. We must know, we will know.

Bolding is mine.

Wilson is in all senses a traditional scholar, a biologist, probably the greatest biologist alive today. While we can disagree on the statement that order always wins, there is a surprising amount for a Discordian in this passage. Replace "postmodernists" with "Discordians" and the meaning is the same. Both those who make order and disorder are necessary for progression of knowledge, and without this tension "teacher and learner alike fall asleep at their posts".

I'd like your thoughts on this, either what I've pointed out, or on the above overall.
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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2010, 01:00:15 pm »
It makes a lot of sense to me, I like it. Same as the arguement for contrarianism etc.

That's why I don't feel too worried when people ask questions of Evolution, Global Warming or whatever. Because it's worth asking those questions, to see what you come up with, even if it's usally not alot.
If sheep entrails could in any way be related to the weather, i.e. sheep trails only originate where it rains, then you could use it as an accurate model for discerning what the weathers going to be like. Either, sheep shit makes it rain, or raining makes sheep shit. Sheep don't shit "randomly" sheep shit after they eat, it doesn't rain "randomly" it rains after water collects in the atmosphere.

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2010, 02:36:02 pm »
I'm not sure if he's emphasizing the effect upon the ordering-types by knowing someone out there is working against order, or the effect upon coherent systems by types that try to counter them. Both are worth mentioning.


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Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2010, 05:56:35 pm »
I like how he, a socially conservative individual, is willing to admit the necessity of both order and disorder in the progression of knowledge, and the crucial effect of competing hypotheses and strife (read: Eris) on science.
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ish

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 07:52:35 am »
although he left out the third and most original form of thinking; viewing disorder/order cycles and simply Mu-ing.
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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 01:47:26 pm »
While I don't only not agree with the "order always win" stuff, I really think it can't be sustained without entering in contradictions (it could be defended from a faith based point of view, but faith isn't logical, so there it is). I really like the realization that there is not a possible way of unifying knowledge... Which is in fact a kind of post-modern point of view.  :lulz:

Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2010, 02:30:39 pm »
While I don't only not agree with the "order always win" stuff, I really think it can't be sustained without entering in contradictions (it could be defended from a faith based point of view, but faith isn't logical, so there it is). I really like the realization that there is not a possible way of unifying knowledge... Which is in fact a kind of post-modern point of view.  :lulz:

However, the unity of knowledge is the thesis of the book, so your final statement is false. He is realizing the necessity of challenging and criticizing for better understanding of the universe. This does not necessitate a lack of consilience, only a perpetual incompleteness to our understanding.
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Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2010, 02:31:58 pm »
although he left out the third and most original form of thinking; viewing disorder/order cycles and simply Mu-ing.

If by "mu-ing" you mean "doing nothing", then I think you're much like the solipsist.
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Ikelos

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2010, 06:25:59 pm »
While I don't only not agree with the "order always win" stuff, I really think it can't be sustained without entering in contradictions (it could be defended from a faith based point of view, but faith isn't logical, so there it is). I really like the realization that there is not a possible way of unifying knowledge... Which is in fact a kind of post-modern point of view.  :lulz:

However, the unity of knowledge is the thesis of the book, so your final statement is false. He is realizing the necessity of challenging and criticizing for better understanding of the universe. This does not necessitate a lack of consilience, only a perpetual incompleteness to our understanding.

Good point...in any case to draw a conclusion I should have to read the whole book... Any way the first half of my answer would still be valid...

Damn... now I'm in the mood for searching that book...

Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2010, 07:12:25 pm »
While I agree that Wilson's wording ("order always wins...because that's the way the world works") is poor, lets discuss the greater concept.

Systems in continuity by emergent properties require some sort of order. Without at least some ordering of systems, they fall apart. In that sense I would propose it is truly impossible to have a fully disordered system, because if there was no order whatsoever at some level of emergence it would, as I said, fall apart and not exist. This is true from atoms up to ecology and societies. The idea that order always wins out is by the concept that systems possessing no order cease to exist shortly after they come into existence. Perpetual and complete unorderedness does not last long, it disintegrates, it never WAS integrated.

The flip side of this is that a universe with perpetual order would be static and fall to entropy without much happening. It's a discordian cliche that order and disorder are two sides of the same coin. Order provides a system with some stability, and disorder provides impulse for creativity and change. Wilson is saying this is true for change in knowledge as well, and to hear him use the above terms is refreshing and interesting coming from the world's premier biologist.
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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2010, 07:37:12 pm »
is it fair to define order (as its used here) as "relationships between things" and disorder as the lack thereof?


Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2010, 07:41:52 pm »
is it fair to define order (as its used here) as "relationships between things" and disorder as the lack thereof?



Not only a relationship, but a pattern, an organization. When scientists talk about chaos, for example, they aren't seeking out understanding of disorder, rather of order that from a shallow view seems to be disorder. Or something.

Or I lost track of what I was talking about somewhere back there in the semantics.
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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2010, 08:57:48 pm »
Systems in continuity by emergent properties require some sort of order. Without at least some ordering of systems, they fall apart. In that sense I would propose it is truly impossible to have a fully disordered system, because if there was no order whatsoever at some level of emergence it would, as I said, fall apart and not exist. This is true from atoms up to ecology and societies. The idea that order always wins out is by the concept that systems possessing no order cease to exist shortly after they come into existence. Perpetual and complete unorderedness does not last long, it disintegrates, it never WAS integrated.

The flip side of this is that a universe with perpetual order would be static and fall to entropy without much happening. It's a discordian cliche that order and disorder are two sides of the same coin. Order provides a system with some stability, and disorder provides impulse for creativity and change. Wilson is saying this is true for change in knowledge as well, and to hear him use the above terms is refreshing and interesting coming from the world's premier biologist.

Agree, but the bold words are vital

Kai

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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2010, 09:12:41 pm »
Systems in continuity by emergent properties require some sort of order. Without at least some ordering of systems, they fall apart. In that sense I would propose it is truly impossible to have a fully disordered system, because if there was no order whatsoever at some level of emergence it would, as I said, fall apart and not exist. This is true from atoms up to ecology and societies. The idea that order always wins out is by the concept that systems possessing no order cease to exist shortly after they come into existence. Perpetual and complete unorderedness does not last long, it disintegrates, it never WAS integrated.

The flip side of this is that a universe with perpetual order would be static and fall to entropy without much happening. It's a discordian cliche that order and disorder are two sides of the same coin. Order provides a system with some stability, and disorder provides impulse for creativity and change. Wilson is saying this is true for change in knowledge as well, and to hear him use the above terms is refreshing and interesting coming from the world's premier biologist.

Agree, but the bold words are vital

I agree that it was right of me not to polarize, but at what point does that predict your argument?
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Re: EO Wilson on Order and Disorder.
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2010, 09:35:49 pm »
I like the discussion so far. I really don't want to dump a bunch of jargon or kill the conversation, but I think this would be a good point to throw in Bucky Fuller's take on Order/Disorder. He uses the terms Syntropy/Entropy to describe the ordering/disordering proclivity of systems. I haven't even begun to read the whole of Synergenics yet, but here's that section:

Quote
   1052.54  Order and Disorder: Birth and Growth: Entropy is locally increasing disorder; syntropy is locally increasing order. Order is obviously the complement, but not mirror-image, of disorder.9 Local environments are forever complexedly altering themselves due to the myriad associative and disassociative interpatterning options of syntropy and entropy, with an overall cosmic syntropic dominance insured by an overall local entropic dominance. (See the "Principle of Universal Integrity" at Sec. 231.) Universe is a vast variety of frequency rates of eternally regenerative, explosive, entropic vs implosive, syntropic pulsation systems. Electromagnetic radiant energy is entropic; gravitational energy is syntropic.

(Footnote 9: See "Principle of Irreversibility" at 229.10)

   1052.55 Both entropy and syntropy are operative in respect to planet Earth's biospheric evolution. Wherever entropy is gaining over syntropy, death prevails; wherever syntropy is gaining over entropy, life prevails.

   1052.56 Entropy is decadent, putrid, repulsive, disassociative, explosive, dispersive, maximally disordering, and ultimately expansive. Syntropy is impulsive, associative, implosive, collective, maximally ordering, and ultimately compactive. Entropy and syntropy intertransform pulsively like the single rubber glove (see Sec. 507). There is an entropic, self-negating, momentary self: there is also the no-time, nondimensionable eternity of mind. Dimensioning is apprehensible only within temporal relativity. Time is experienced in our relative duration lags and gestation rates as well as in the unique frequency interrelatedness of the electromagnetic spectrum events and novents. Every time we experience the novent disconnects of momentary annihilation into eternity, naught is lost. Mind deals only with eternity__with eternal principles. What is gained to offset any loss is the residual, observational lags in accuracy inherent and operative as cognition and the relativity of awareness that we call life. (See Secs. 638.02 and 1056.20.)

   1052.57 The life-propagating syntropy-entropy, birth-to-death transformations constitute the special case realizations of the complex interactive potentials of all the eternal, abstract, dimensionless, nonsubstantial, generalized principles of Universe, interplayed with the absolute "if-this-then-that" integrity of plural cosmic unity's intercomplementarity. The death and annihilation discontinuities occur as eternal generalization intervenes between the special case, "in-time," relative intersizing of the realizations.

http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/synergetics/toc/toc.html
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