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Existential Risk and a Changing Humanity

Waves of angst

There are thus real individual facts of the togetherness of actual entities, which are real, individual, and particular, in the same sense in which actual entities and the prehensions are real, individual, and particular. Any such particular fact of togetherness among actual entities is called a 'nexus' [a written contract]. The prehension of another actual entity occurs through the transmission of a physical feeling, but the meaning the subject assigns to that feeling is derived from an eternal object providing the conceptual component.

Prehensions of actual entities—i.

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And importantly when discussing 'low grade' organisms:. Consciousness is not necessarily involved in the subjective forms of either type of prehension. Tacit knowledge is the term coined by the philosopher of science, Michael Polanyi. It is developed to describe how a the explicite description of the world attempted by science is only possible becasue it is based a non-verbal understanding of the world. In his authoritive review of this concept, Yu Zhenhua attributes the following to Polanyi. Hence all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge.

And in line with the concept of 'Embodied Chemical Mind' see above. He further traces tacit powers back to the activities of protozoa or even ultramicroscopic, virus-like specks of living matter. The emergence of language boosts human tacit powers, but it does not change their tacit character. In Whiteheadean terms, any knowledge of the world conveyed by the use of language is only possible through our non-verbal 'prehensions' of the world.

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This is the basis for the argument that an artificial intelligence could not know the world purely through explicit word based knowledge see p of Origins of Self. Surely, at some point in the reading, judgement is eclipsed by aesthetic delight. The speech, for the theatre audience, is purely theoretical, a mere lure for feeling. Again, consider strong religious emotion—consider a Christian meditating on the sayings in the Gospels. He is not judging 'true or false'; he is eliciting their value as elements in feeling.

In fact, he may ground his judgement of truth upon his realization of value. But such a procedure is impossible, if the primary function of propositions is to be elements in judgements. The random combination of words according to these rules is not a truly creative act. Therefore, if Chomsky is to argue for a real creative use of language then as Margaret Drach argues, that creativity must pre-exist the language that uses it. She critique's his work as such:.

The unboundedness of human speech, as an expression of limitless thought, is an entirely different matter, because of the freedom from stimulus control and appropriateness to new situations. The answer provided by Whitehead is that creativity is not restricted to humans, or animals but is in fact a fundamental principle required to explain the creative advance of the entire universe. This inherent creativity allows novel entities to be generated:. Thus 'creativity' introduces novelty into the content of the many, which are the universe disjunctively.

The 'creative advance' is the application of this ultimate principle of creativity to each novel situation which it originates. Language itself allows humans to have imaginative freedom, but this freedom is still limited by being 'conditioned by its creatures':. Freedom, givenness, potentiality, are notions which presuppose each other and limit each other. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations.

Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.

The concept of equality of citizens is key, but:. In fact, laws are always of use to those who possess and harmful to those who have nothing: from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all have something and none too much. Whitehead expands the concept of human society with all its problems and advantages, to become an example of a universal state. Social interactions are, in fact, required for the creative movement itself:. Each novel actuality is a new partner adding a new condition. Every new condition can be absorbed into additional fullness of attainment.

On the other hand, each condition is exclusive, intolerant of diversities A new actuality may appear in the wrong society, amid which its claims to efficacy act mainly as inhibitions. In other words, the novel fact may throw back, inhibit, and delay. But the advance, when it does arrive, will be richer in content, more fully conditioned, and more stable. For in its objective efficacy an actual entity can only inhibit by reason of its alternative positive contribution.

Whitehead then applies this vision to the problems we experience in our human civilization:. The history of the Mediterranean lands, and of western Europe, is the history of the blessing and the curse of political organizations, of religious organizations, of schemes of thought, of social agencies for large purposes. The moment of dominance, prayed for, worked for, sacrificed for, by generations of the noblest spirits, marks the turning point where the blessing passes into the curse.

Some new principle of refreshment is required.

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order. Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order, the greater the crash of the dead society. Physicists believe that if you add up the negative energy of gravity and the positive energy of matter, then the overall total will be zero. Theoretical physics tries to find the mathematical objects describing the various forms of energy matter and electromagnetic waves that now exist.

Some theoretical physicists, particularly those working from the direction of quantum mechanics, maintain that all the potential forms of energy are simultaneously present. This is the multi-universe model where all possible states co-exist. After all, how can the universe observe itself since it is self contained? This allowed Julian Barbour, for example, to developed his concept of a timeless multi-universe called Platonia after Plato and his platonic forms in which everything is composed of a huge collection of Nows that are all simultaneously present.

Unchanging things do not travel in time from Now to Now. Yesterday seems to come before today because today contains records memories of yesterday. This does not agree with our experience of the world as a place of dynamic change. In contrast, Orin and Freya argue for a dynamic form of timelessness achieved through the process of self- regenerative see above. This theory also demonstrates the dangers of theoreticians forgetting the abstractions upon which their mathematical structures are based.

For example, space is described in terms of unreal zero dimensional points 99 and time is measured by clocks that have no arrow of time because they are time-symmetric. Thus, the theory takes flight from the reality of our everyday experience and returns with an alienating description of what we actually are.

As Whitehead explains:. This conception of the universe is surely framed in terms of high abstractions, and the paradox only arises because we have mistaken our abstraction for concrete realities. He also believed that philosophy's key role is to correct such errors:. It is here that philosophy finds its niche as essential to the healthy progress of society; it is the critic of abstractions.

They provide the structure and order to the world by shaping energy into various forms of matter and radiation, but only a limited number of these potentials become actual during the real creative movement of the universe. An interesting perspective of the social dangers caused to society by the alienation of science, can be seen in the following definition provided by Shiqing He in a paper to the Beijing Law Review. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes particularly among the young hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding.

They have a curious distorted image of each other. Their attitudes are so different that, even on the level of emotion, they can't find much common ground.

PHILOSOPHY - Nietzsche

The postmodernist movement can be seen in part as a reaction against the modernist view that the scientific method is the superior route to our understanding of the world. Instead, they argue it is intellectually inferior to understanding the subjective thought processes and biases that underpin this scientific world view:. Implicit in this attack is a confidence that the postmodern knowledge structure is ultimately more fundamental than the scientific, evidence-based knowledge building, because postmodernism is primarily an understanding about the structure and organisation of the thought process — not an application of one particular e.


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But see Griffin for his discussion about why Whitehead's philosophy is in fact postmodern. Perhaps a more balanced view requires the perspective provided by a true outsider to the whole process. The origins, effects and cause of this alienation are very clearly described by the Thai Buddhist philosopher, B.

Part of this excellent paper describes the danger of the alienation of science and nature as follows:.

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Human beings are natural beings, living in a natural world, but in the future we may find ourselves living in an artificial world. If we want human beings to live harmoniously with this artificial world it may be necessary to adapt the human body, becoming artificial people living in an artificial world. Many new and exciting inventions have been made, but science has not been able to adjust people's lives to meet them. This is a statement of our faith in both reason and science.


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  6. It is quite simply that all effects have a cause see discussion about emergence above. See Projection of Valuations above. Whitehead describes actual entities, prehensions, and nexus as:. All else is, for our experience, derivative abstraction.