v.2 (see version history) called from A1-BeingHeard.php#A1_intro (to e_Choice.php#ButterflyEffect), and from A2-Content.php#A2-Intro.


open quotation markSchopenhauer's words: 'Man can certainly do what he wants but he cannot will what he wants', accompany me in all life's situations and reconcile me with people's actions even if they are rather painful to me. This understanding, of the lack of free will, protects me from taking myself and my fellow human beings too seriously as acting and judging individuals, and from losing my good sense of humor.

While Einstein credits the quote, and his insight, to Schopenhauer, Schopenhauer appears to have referred only to motivation and interest:

quoteleftAs little as a ball on a billiard table can move before receiving an impact, so little can a man get up from his chair before being drawn or driven by a motive. But then his getting up is as necessary and inevitable as the rolling of a ball after the impact. And to expect that anyone will do something to which absolutely no interest impels them is the same as to expect that a piece of wood shall move toward me without being pulled by a string.

While we cannot choose to want something other than what we want in the same instant that we discover we want it, we have, within limits, control of our behaviours, and changes in these are achievable. Our choices precipitate a cascade of events, a systemic feedback that changes our perception and tastes and, over time, becomes coextensive with changes in our wants; over time our wants then inevitably change, and so too can we choose to change them.

Natural laws of cause and effect constrain us, but we are not simply bundles of elementary particles that the Big Bang scattered inescapably down their paths like packs of snooker balls.

quoteleftGiven the state of a system at some time, the laws of nature determine the probabilities of various futures and pasts, rather than determining the future and past with certainty.

In addition to the laws of quantum physics, systems of all kinds also exhibit 'deterministic chaos': the smallest 'unobserved' change in them at any point in time exponentially causing their behaviours to be unpredictable. This is what Lorenz discovered.

quoteleft..formally deterministic fluid systems .. are observationally indistinguishable from indeterministic systems; .. two states of the system differing initially by a small "observational error" will evolve into two states differing as greatly as randomly chosen states of the system within a finite time interval which cannot be lengthened by reducing the amplitude of the initial error...

Commonly referred to as the Butterfly Effect, deterministic chaos is popularly illustrated by the example of a butterfly flapping its wings. This causes small changes in air movements, altering the 'initial conditions' of, for instance, a weather system, and resulting perhaps, several days later and thousands of miles away, in a storm.

Edward Lorenz discovered deterministic chaos through his studies of meteorological systems but the Kyoto Prize, awarded to him in 1991, praised it as: "a principle that has profoundly influenced a wide range of basic sciences and brought about one of the most dramatic changes in mankind's view of nature since Sir Isaac Newton."

Limiting predictability, the probabilistic laws of nature have made choice a fundamental and inescapable requirement for life. for us too it contributes significantly, and independently of the impact of chance, to our development of adaptability, viability, and sustainability.

From the paradigm mainlined through digital technology it might appear that a hard determinism, a fatalism of the inevitable, is simple scientific truth. But despite the virulent verbal narcosis, and the sense of hopeless impotence that flows from its self-fulfilling prophecies, our behaviours remain expressions of choice, the roles that we play subjective and variable, products of perception just as much as of fate. What we tell ourselves about it, especially now, is surely then central to our future.

quoteleft... words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, egotize, narcotize, and paralyse, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain.

from: 'My credo', a speech given by Albert Einstein to the German League of Human Rights, Berlin 1932.

from Chapter III of 'On the freedom of the will', Arthur Schopenhauer, 1839.

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, on quantum physics, in "The Grand Design", 2010.

Footnote to e_Choice.php: {semioticLife}; an include of n_semioticLife.php. and Freeman Dyson quote.

open quotation mark..unlike non-living processes, the categorization of substances through processes of molecular recognition, as exhibited e.g. at the level of bacterial chemotaxis, already realizes the split between objects and properties. In many cases, several different compounds may serve exactly the same functional end implying that the process is fallible (while it makes little sense, by contrast, to conceive of pre-living processes as fallible) - in the sense that certain other compounds recognized and "approved" by the bacteria may nevertheless fail to support survival. E. coli is able to swim upstream in a sugar gradient due to its ability to recognize a range of carbohydrates (objects) from the partial shape of the perimeter of the molecules (properties) and, for the same reason, they will be deceived by artificial sweeteners with the same partial shape property, just like human beings will be so deceived. Molecular recognition may fail, leading the organism to accept irrelevant or even poisonous substances, a failure which is objectively measured through its consequences for survival.
open quotation markFor the biologists, every step down in size was a step toward increasingly simple and mechanical behavior. A bacterium is more mechanical than a frog, and a DNA molecule is more mechanical than a bacterium. But twentieth-century physics has shown that further reductions in size have an opposite effect. If we divide a DNA molecule into its component atoms, the atoms behave less mechanically than the molecule... ... If we divide an atom into nucleus and electrons, the electrons are less mechanical than the atom. .. all physicists agree with the experimental facts which make it hopeless to look for a description independent of the mode of observation... The laws of subatomic physics cannot even be formulated without some reference to the observer. "Chance" cannot be defined except as a measure of the observer's ignorance of the future. The laws leave a place for mind in the description of every molecule.

from: "The Great Chain of Semiosis. Investigating the Steps in the Evolution of Semiotic Competence." p.8, Jesper Hoffmeyer & Frederik Stjernfelt, September 2015, Biosemiotics 9(1) DOI:10.1007/s12304-015-9247-y (Emphasis added).

From: "Disturbing the Universe." by Freeman Dyson. Harper & Row, 1979, p.246-249. "Freeman Dyson FRS (1923-2020) was a British-American theoretical physicist and mathematician known for his works in quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and engineering. He was professor emeritus in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a member of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists."

Rudyard Kipling; in a speech to the Royal College of Surgeons, London, 1923.

From the abstract of: The predictability of a flow which possesses many scales of motion by Edward N. Lorenz. First published: June 1969, Tellus, Volume 21, Issue 3, p.289-307:
quoteleftIt is proposed that certain formally deterministic fluid systems which possess many scales of motion are observationally indistinguishable from indeterministic systems; specifically, that two states of the system differing initially by a small "observational error" will evolve into two states differing as greatly as randomly chosen states of the system within a finite time interval, which cannot be lengthened by reducing the amplitude of the initial error. ... It is found that each scale of motion possesses an intrinsic finite range of predictability, provided that the total energy of the system does not fall off too rapidly with decreasing wave length.

quoteleftThe Kyoto Prize managed by Inamori Foundation is an international award that we would like to contribute to the progress and development of human being by endowment of the persons who made significant contribution to the progress of science, advancement of the civilization, and enrichment and elevation of the human spirit.
A description of the goals of the Kyoto Prize, provided via its website. A more english but perhaps less beautiful, less precise description of these is given on Wikipedia.

Description retrieved on 9/4 2024 from a DuckDuckGo search that was displaying the meta content property description of an index page on the Kyoto Prize's website.


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