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MASTERSOFABSTRACTION

TheTrueWarAgainstFragmentaryKnowledge:
BreakingfromourEvolutionaryPastwithaNewTheoryofProgress
Humansareplaguedbyanuncertaintythatarisesfromincompleteinformation.We
createsystemsofabstractionstofillinthegapsofourfragmentaryknowledgebuttono
avail.Thus,thetrickistocreateasystemthatcanabsorbanychallengefromthese
revolutionaryfragmentsthatthreatentoundotheorderthatweimposeonour
environmentthroughsystems.Thisstruggleisattheheartofa(relatively)newfieldof
researchcallednonequilibriumscience.
ThispaperistheresultofaninquiryintotheMetaphysicalnatureofMan.My
experiencewiththeresearchandmyreflectiononrationality,emotion,andhuman
experience,leadmetolessofaquestionandmoreofacuriosity.WhenIusetheterm,
Abstraction,ImeanthesymbolicrealitythatresultsfromManshierarchicalthinking.I
willexplainthisdefinitioninmoredetailbutsufficeittosaythatthissubjectisevasive.
Theminuteyouthinkyouhavecapturedit,thereemergesawholenewpossibility,a
wholenewmodeofthinking.Whatiscertain,however,isthatAbstractionisnotmerelya
peculiarinquiryentertainedbyafewperipheralminds,butthatitisquitepossiblythe
mostimportantsubjectformankind.
Aswefacethecomplexityoftheworld,whathasthelastcenturyshownus?The
abstractorderingprinciplesthathaveheretoforegovernedandservedasaguidetohuman
lifeareeitherdeterioratingorundergoingsomeprofoundchange.BelgianViscount
tienneDavignonstateditthus,Peopleunderstandconfusedlythatthereisachangein
theair.Butnogovernmentwillsatisfythereactionsofthepeople.Theyhavethegreatest
reticenceandcynicismagainstanybodywhoholdsresponsibility.Againstthebusiness
communitybecauseofthefinancialexcesses.Also,thechurchhasdisappeared.The
popularreactionisaconsequenceofthefactthatanumberoftraditionalreferenceshave
disappeared.Peoplearelookingforwhatisthereference.Weseethissearchfora
referenceacrossallfieldsofresearch,fromlinguisticstophysics,fromfinancialsystems
topoliticalsystems.AsManbegantograspthefullscopeandramificationsof
disequilibriumintheearlyyearsofthe20thcentury,hebegantoreassesshisabilityto
orderhisownenvironment.
Withouttheoldabstractionstoguidethemind,Manhaslookedtohimselffor
answers.The20thcenturywitnessedtheemergenceofextensiveselfreflectionas
classicalliberalismandtheVictorianconceptofinevitableprogressgavewaytothe
trenchwarfareofWorldWarI.AnewpessimismsettledintoEuropeanminds(Max
NordausDegeneration,OswaldSpenglersTheDeclineoftheWest,thedegenerative
theoriesofItalianCesareLombroso),andAmericaembarkedonaspendingspreethat
resembledtheeuphoricrevelryofasoldierontheeveofhislastbattle.Nolongercould
hopeandcertaintyaboutthefuturebefoundoutsideoftheindividualbecausethe
aestheticsofliberalprogresscompletelydeteriorated.

Thenew20thcenturyMan,feelingtheweightoftheatrocitiesintheWorldWars
andstifledbytheonslaughtofbureaucracy(whichcreptintoexistenceinthelasthalfof
the19thcentury),wonderedabouthisownraisond'tre.Moreover,authorslikeFreudand
Marxwereunderminingtheexistingsocialfabricbyconvincingmenthattheworldwas
notasitseemed.EinsteinstheoryofrelativitywascallingintoquestionManscertainty
inmeasurementsofvalue.TheresultwasaWesternpsycheakintoHansCastorpin
ThomasMannsMagicMountain.TheWest,afactoryofinnovation,foundmoreand
moreofitspsychicenergydivertedintothemalaiseofMannssanatoriumhighinthe
SwissMountains.TheresultwasaWesternmindmiredinuncertaintyandreflectingon
itself.
ConsiderthecontrastbetweenthesweepinglandscapesoftheHudsonRiver
School(19thcentury)andtheprofaneFountainbyMarcelDuchamps(early20thcentury)
ortheincomprehensibleworksofJacksonPollock.Inthefirst,Manisencouragedtolook
outsideofhimselfandperceivethebeautythatisinfrontofhim.Inthelasttwo,thereis
noobviousmetaphysicalreferencebywhichtheobservercandiscovermeaning.Heis
lefttohimselftoordertheabstractimagebeforehim.Thesamecanbesaidaboutthe
atonalworksofSovietcomposersthatsoinfuriatedStalin.Nolongerwasartabout
creatingsomethingthattranscendedhumanity,butithadbecomeanexpressionofthe
consternationoriginatingintheartist.Thustheobserveriscompelledtocreatehisown
abstractunderstandingorresponsetothepiecebysearchingformeaningwithinhimself.
TheartistsarerevealingsomethingquiteprofoundaboutthenatureofmodernManby
creatingartthatisnotaxiomatic.Itissymptomaticofahumanitythatchoosesto
inwardlycritiqueratherthantocreatebeyonditself.SoManisconsideringhimselfand
whatishefinding?AsT.S.Eliotwrote,Whataretherootsthatclutch,whatbranches
grow/Outofthisstonyrubbish?Sonofman,/Youcannotsay,orguess,foryouknow
only/Aheapofbrokenimagesi

HOMOSYMBOLICUS
Whataretheseimagesbeforeus?LudwigvonBertalanffy,thefatherofGeneral
SystemTheory,describedManasacreatureoftwoworlds,abiologicalentitythathas
createdforhimselfauniverseofsymbols.Thesesymbolsareabstractionsthatextrapolate
samplesoftheworldaroundustooverarchingtheoreticalconcepts.Bertalanffyidentified
thefollowingthreecharacteristicsofsymbols:
Symbolsarerepresentativeofwhatissymbolized;
Symbolsaretransmittedthroughtraditionlearned,notbyinnateinstinct;
Symbolsarefreelycreatednobiologicallyenforcedconnectionbetweenthe
symbolandthingsignified;
ForBertalanffy,itistheabilitytocreatethesesymbolicuniversesthatseparatesMan
frombeast.
Forexample,inmathematicswecreateabstractsymbolsandthenhavethose
symbolsinteract.Theresultiscomputers,accounting,robotics,engineeringtheability
toconstructcompletelynewinnovationsapartfromwhatnatureoffers.Inmusic,thereis
anunlimitedrangeofpitchesthatwithproperdelimiterscanproduceamusicalscale.

ThecrucialpointisthatnotanysetofdelimiterswilldoanditisbyMansselectionthat
therangeofpitchesbecomespleasing.Considerlanguageasafinalexample.We
formulizeabstractionswordsinordertocommunicatebetweenoneanother.Asa
result,languagehasmadepossiblelevelsofcommunicationthatfarsurpassanythingwe
witnessinnature.Sciencehasdescribedthiskindofthinkingashierarchicaland
locateditsphysiologicaloriginintheneocortex.
PeterCorning(knownforhisworkonsynergyinevolution)wrote,Many
differenttheoriesofhumanevolutionhavebeenproposedovertheyears.Humanshave
beencharacterizedasthekillerape,thenakedape,andthetalkingape.Wehave
beencalledmanthehunter,womanthegatherer,andeventheselfishape.However,
Iwillproposearadicallydifferentscenarioforhumanevolution.Iwilldevelopthe
theorythat,ineffect,weinventedourselvesthroughaprocessthatIhavedubbedNeo
LamarckianSelection.Weareuniquelytheinventiveape.Indeed,symbolismhas
completelyrevolutionizedtheevolutionaryprocess.
BecauseMancreatessymbolicsystems,phylogeneticevolutionbasedon
hereditarychangesisreplacedbyahistorythattracesthetraditionofsymbols.Because
futuregoalsareanticipatedintheirsymbolicimages,theymaydeterminepresentaction
(thissupportsAristotelianpurposiveness).Thesesymbolsexplaintheaccelerationinthe
evolutionofMancomparedtothegeologicaltimescale,largelybecauseactualtrialand
errorisreplacedbyreasoning.Inotherwords,Mancancreatetrialanderrorexperiments
usingconceptualsymbols.Moreover,thesesymbolicuniversescreatedbyMangain
autonomyalifeoftheirownandsotheyfollowlawsbeyondthepsychologicallaws
oftheircreator.Thesystemoflawsofasymbolicuniversegainsalgorithmicproperties;
i.e.theycreateanewrationalitythatcanbesharedwhichspeedstheevolutionary
process.Mostimportantly,Bertalanffynotesthatduetotheirautonomyandlaws,
symbolicsystemscangovernhumanbehaviormorepowerfullythanbiologicalrealityor
organismicdrives.Inessence,Manhasevolvedintoabiologicalentitythatcreatesself
perpetuatingsymbolicsystemsthatcandictateactionandshapetheevolutionaryprocess
morepowerfullythannatureitself.Notsurprisingly,Bertalanffywrites,"Theevolution
ofsymbolismisthebasicproblemofanthropogenesis."
OfprimeimportancetothisconceptofsymbolicManistheobservationthat
natureproducedanorganismthatcreatestheworldarounditinsteadofbeingjusta
passivereceiverofstimulifromtheenvironment.Manusestechnologytorecreatehis
environmentelectricitytocontrolforthedarknessofnight,heatingandair
conditioningtocontrolfortemperature,airplanestocontrolforheightanddistance,
medicinetocontroldisease,evenloadbearingmachinestodefyMansownfrailty.Itis
ofvitalimportancetorecognizeManasacreatingbeingforitwillhelptoavoidcommon
philosophicalerrors.Forexample,Bertalanffyrejectedtheutilitarianconceptionof
pleasureastheultimategoodbecausehethoughtitwouldresultinhomeostasis,
adaptation,andadjustmentwhichwouldpromoteconformityandthestatusquoasthe
ultimategoal.Rather,hepositedthefullrealizationofonesownpotentialitiesas
centraltothepursuitofhappiness.Wewillreturntothispointlaterbutfornowrecognize
thatManisinaconstantstruggletotranscendthenaturalequilibriumandcreatebeyond

natureusingabstraction.ItisinthisstrivingthatManfindsfulfillmentofhis
evolutionarydestiny.
Animportantcaveatisthatoursymbolsarenotnecessarilyareflectionofreal
things,butinsteadtheresultofacomplexinteractionbetweentheknowerandthe
knownthatisdependentonbiological,psychological,cultural,andlinguisticfactors.
ThisnewperspectiveonManrequiresanewepistemologythatcentersonthedynamic
creativityofManandtheshiftingperspectivesthatresultfromhisuseofabstraction.
Bertalanffydescribedthisnewepistemologyasashiftfromabsolutismtoperspective
philosophy.Toillustratethiswithrespecttolanguage,thephilosopherLudwig
Wittgensteinusedthefollowingdemonstration.First,hewoulddrawatriangleandlabel
twopointsasthebaseandtheotherastheapex.Next,hewoulderasethoselabelsand
changewhichpointswerethebaseandwhichwastheapex.Inthissimpleway,he
demonstratedthatabstractionsrelyonperspective;thatis,thebiological,cultural,
psychological,andlinguisticbiasesoftheobserver.Bertalanffywrites,Allour
knowledgeonlymirrorsaspectsofrealityUltimatelyrealityisaunitofopposites;any
statementholdsfromacertainviewpointonly,hasonlyrelativevalidity,andmustbe
supplementedbyantitheticstatementsfromoppositepointsofview.
Soeventhoughabstractionscancreatenewexperiencesorilluminatepreviously
hiddenones,thesesystemsofsymbolsaremoreproblematicthanonemightrealize.
EveninWittgensteinsexample,youcanseewhereproblemsemergeinourabilityto
communicatethroughabstraction.Thesystemoflanguageisincompletebecauseit
cannotfullyencapsulateanddifferentiatebetweenourperceptionsofreality.Gdel
showedtheexactsameproblemwithrespecttomathematics.Hedemonstratedthat
mathematicsonlyworksasaclosedsystem.Inessence,hefoundthatmathematicsisnot
trueapartfromitself.TheproblemwiththeimagesthatwecreatetouseEliotsterm
isthattheyarebroken.Wecreateabstractsystemsthatareincompleteandreflect
fragmentaryknowledge.
ThisproblemwithlanguageisindicativeofMansexistentialstruggle.Aswe
grow,webegintoordertheworldaroundusinincreasinglycomplexwaysusing
hierarchicalthinking.Theproblemisthatweareincapableofencapsulatingallthe
complexitythatweobservesowesimplifyoursystemsofunderstanding.Fromour
earliestmomentsinhistory,humanshaveattemptedtoordertherealityoftheworld
throughabstraction.TheGreekswereobsessedwithaskingwhy?ratherthanwhat?.
Euclidiangeometryisfundamentallybuiltonproofs,logicalstreamsofabstraction.The
earlyMiletianmetaphysicianslikeThalesandAnaximandersoughttofindthe
quintessentialsubstanceoftheearth.Theyprofferedthingslikeair,water,andvague
indescribablesubstancesastheapeiron,theprincipleofallthings.Theysimplifiedthe
worldaroundthemandindoingsocouldnotincorporateallthecomplexitythey
observedinnature.
ThesociologistErichFrommdescribedthishumandesireforcertaintyfor
completeknowledgewhenhewrote,"Anotherfactorthatcontributestothe
developmentofalienationand'ideologization'seemstobeaninherenttendencyinhuman
thoughttostriveforsystematizationandcompleteness.Onerootforthistendency
probablyliesinourquestforcertaintyaquestthatisunderstandableenoughinviewof

theprecariousnatureofhumanexistence.Whenweknowsomefragmentsofrealitywe
wanttocompletetheminsuchawaythattheymakesenseinasystematicway.Yetby
theverynatureofthelimitationsofpeoplewealwayshaveonlyfragmentary
knowledge,andnevercompleteknowledge
Howwillwefindthiscertainty?Howwillwedefeatfragmentaryknowledge?It
isbyleveragingthepowerofthenewtechnologicaltoolsatMansdisposaltodevelop
systemsthatabsorbthecomplexitythatweobserve.

SYSTEMS
Inthe6thcenturyBC,Pythagorasbegantodevelopanumericalabstractsystem.
Heconsiderednumbersandthesymmetriesexistingbetweenthem(socalled
harmonies)asfirstprinciples.ThisissignificantbecausePythagoraswasnotonly
creatingsymbolsbutrecognizingthesystemofinteractionbetweenthem.Eachnumber
hadaparticularsignificancebasedontheserelationships.Interestingly,hecalledthe
numberonetheMonad,originatingfromthewordmeneinwhichmeanstobestable.
ForthePythagoreans,theMonadreflectedtheprincipleofGod.Itmaintainsevery
number(2x1=1,3x1=3,4x1=4),producesitselfoutofitself,producestheothernumbers,
andforbidswhateverispresenttochange.Itwasalsoconsideredintellectbecauseit
representedthepartofGodthatwasauthoritativeonthecreationoftheuniverseand,in
general,theskillandreasonofthatcreation.
TheMonadwasthoughttocontainwithinitthepotentialityofallthings.The
writerIamblichusinTheTheologyofArithmeticwrote,Thatiswhyitiscalledartificer
andmodeler,sinceinitsprocessionsandrecessionsittakesthoughtforthe
mathematicalnatures,fromwhichariseinstancesofcorporeality,ofpropagationof
creaturesandofthecompositionoftheuniverse.HencetheycallitPrometheus,the
artificeroflife,becauseuniquely,itinnowayoutrunsordepartsfromitsownprinciple,
norallowsanythingelsetodoso,sinceitsharesoutitsownproperties.Forhoweverfarit
isextended,orhowevermanyextensionsitcauses,itstillprohibitsoutrunningand
changingthefundamentalprincipleofitselfandofthoseextensions.Euripideswrote,
ThoseamongmortalswhoarewiseconsideryoutobetheHearth.TheMonadwas
thoughttobeinthemiddlebetweenheavenandhell.Homerwrote,Asfarbeneathas
Hades,sofarabovetheEartharetheheavens.Theoldsagesfollowedbythe
PythagoreansthoughtthattheMonadwassituatedinthemiddleonaccountofitbeing
equilibrated.
Aswefacetheproblemoffragmentaryknowledge,wehavetwooptions.Wecan
eithercreateacompletesystemthataccountsforeveryfacetofcomplexityorwecan
createasystemthatevolvesitwouldabsorbinputsfromitsenvironmentandthenclose
tomaintainitsformevenwhileitreorganizesinternallyduetothenewinput.Imention
theMonadbecauseitprovidesanexampleofabstractionthatincorporatesthesumofall
possibilities.Wemustbuildasystemthatcanabsorbanyinputandyetmaintainits
designatedform.TheMonadcanreceiveform,itcanabsorbinputsandyetstillnot
outrunitsownfundamentalprinciples.WithNewProgress,wewishtomodelthe
processesofnatureinordertoleverageandcontrolthepowerofnatureforourown

benefit.Technologyisswiftlyprovidingusthisopportunitybyerodingtheproblemof
fragmentaryknowledge.By2030,wewillhavereversedengineeredthebrain.Weare
alreadymakingstridesinmolecularnanotechnologywhichwilleventuallyallowusto
constructbiologicalorganismswiththesameselfreplicatingpropertiesasDNA.The
networksofthefuturewillmimicbiologicalecosystems.Wewillcreatenaturebutina
perfectedformbynotmakingthesameassumptionsandshortcutsoftheformer
evolutionaryprocess.
WeareatamomentinthehistoryofManwherethebrainmindrelationshipis
undergoingafundamentalchangewhichisprofoundlyaffectingourinteractionwith
nature.NeurologicalPositivismisthephilosophicalculminationoftheevolutionof
consciousnessandmind.LarryVanderwerterwrites,Consciousnessisdescribedasa
naturalevolutionaryspacetimetemplateofcontinuouslygeneratedselfreferential
energypatterns(algorithms).Theenergeticevolutionofmindisdescribedasanatural
selfreferentialexteriorizationofthealgorithmicorganizationofconsciousnessinthe
formofculturallysharedmentalmodels.Itisproposedthatthebrainmindenergy
relationshiphashistoricallyundergoneandcontinuestoundergochange,andthatthis
changeisanaturalthermodynamicarrowthatconstitutestheevolutionofculture.Thatis,
theevolutionofcultureproceedsinthedirectionofprogressivelymorecompleteand
efficientexteriorizationsofthealgorithmicorganizationofthebrainthus,forexample,
therecentevolutionofbrainlikecomputingsystemsandvirtualrealitysystems.In
essence,aswebegintounderstandthealgorithmicpropertiesofthebrain/nature,we
begintoreplicatethoseprocessesinmanmadesystems.
The20thcenturygaveanewimpetusforsystemtheory.Webegantoobserve
systemsasentitiesinandofthemselvesratherthanmerelyaconglomerationofparts.Its
emergencecoincideswithaspectacularaccelerationintherateoftechnological
developmentwhichisnotlikelyacoincidence.Aswehavepushedbacktheboundaries
ofmysticismaboutthebiologicalworld,wehaveatthesametimedesiredandfelt
possibleasystemicviewofthisnewparadigm.Ourearlyexperienceintheevolutionary
processprogrammedustothinklinearly.Wenowarelearningtothinksystematically.
Thereisemergingasynergyamongdifferentscientificandpsychologicaldisciplines.
ThissynthesisofscientificknowledgewillaccelerateMansabilitytocreateself
replicatingselfgoverningsystemsforhisownbenefit.Artificialintelligence,themerger
ofManandmachine,nanotechnologythatcancurediseaseandcancer,selfgoverning
automobilesalltheseandmorearewithintherealmofpossibility.Theartificialization
ofManandnatureistheNewProgress.TheMastersofAbstractionwillconquernature
byfreeingtherationalsystemsofManfromtheirbindsoffragmentaryknowledge.

THETRUEWAR
Wetalkofthe21stcenturyastheAsiancenturyandlamentthefactthat
authoritariancapitalismisunderminingdemocraticcapitalismbycausingahuge
misallocationofcapital.However,Iwouldliketopositthequestion:ifwereally
succeededincreatingaworldsystemthatwaspeacefulwitheconomicprosperityacross
allregionsoftheworld,thenwhat?Whatmissionwouldthisnewpeacefulgeneration

haveforitselfthen?Iarguethattheimportanceofastableworldsystembasedonthe
valuesofdemocraticcapitalismisonlytocreateastagefortheNewProgress.The
potentialdestabilizationoftheworldsystemisactuallyperipheraltothetruewarwhich
istheonethatwagesbetweentheforcesofNewProgress,fragmentaryknowledge,and
nature.
Theactorsinthiswarofabstractionarethreefold.First,therearethosepeople
thatconsiderMantobeapartofnaturewithnohighervaluethantheotherspeciesthat
exist.Second,therearethosethatbelieveManevolvedasapartofnaturebutthathehas
reachedapointinevolutionwhereheisbecomingamasterofhisenvironment,
somethingquiteseparatefromthenaturalforcesthathaveheretoforegovernedhis
existence.Inthisview,ManislikePrometheusstealingthefireofthegods.Finally,there
arethoseintheabstractwarthatregardMantobecreatedbyGodandthepinnacleofhis
creation.Inthisview,MantranscendshisnaturaloriginsnotbyaPrometheanstruggle
butbythefiatofGod.Whiletherecanbesomevariationineachoftheseviewpoints(for
example,abelieverinGodmayalsobelieveinevolutionoranaturalmanproponent
maybelieveMantobeacancerintheevolutionaryprocess),thesearethebasic
argumentsinthetruewar.
Inordertoexplorethenaturalmanperspective,wecanlookattheunique
thoughtsonTimebyphysicistandNobelLaureate,IlyaPrigogine.Thecentralthemeof
Prigoginesworkwasnonlinearity;thatis,arejectionofdeterminism.Thisissimilarto
NassimTalebsconceptoftheBlackSwan,aneventlikethe2008financialcrisisthatwe
cannotforesee.Therearelawsthatgovernlifeandnaturebuttherearealsobifurcations
instabilitiesthatfundamentallydisruptourdeterministicsystems.Thisintroducesthe
conceptofirreversibilityasafundamentalpropertyofnature.
Irreversibilitytherecognitionthatnonequilibriumeventscanpermanently
changetheprecedingstatusquoandtherefutationofdeterministicsystems,including
theonesthatwecreate,arewhatplacePrigogineinthisnaturalmancategory.He
states,Scienceshouldnotleadtoalienation.Scienceshouldemphasizeourembedding
innature.Adeterministicsystemimpliesthatifyouknowtheinitialconditions,then
youwillknowtheoutcome.Prigoginesaysthisdoesnotexistinreality.Canthe
complexityweseearoundusbereducedifwegosufficientlydeepintothedescription?
Hewouldsayno.TheimplicationsarethatManisunabletodecipherandsimulatethe
systemsthatfunctioninnature.ThisisclearlyagainstthegoalofNewProgresstobuild
artificialsystemsthatmimicbiologicalsystems.
ForPrigogine,science(particularlyNewtonianphysics)andreligionarenot
opposites.Infact,classicalwesternsciencehasitsoriginsinatypeoftheology.Hecites
Leibnizwhowantedtocreateauniversalmathematicsandarguedthatthepurposeof
sciencewastobringManclosertotheknowledgeofGod.RenDescartesinthe17th
centuryspokeofthesegodlikepowers,givemematterandmotionandIwillconstruct
theworld.Likewise,SigmundFreudwrote,Manhas,asitwere,becomeakindof
prostheticgod.Whenheputsonallhisauxiliaryorgans(technology)heistruly
magnificent;butthoseorganshavenotgrownontohimandtheystillgivehimmuch
troubleattimes.ForGodthereisnodifferencebetweenpast,future,presentthereis

onlyeternity.Similarly,classicalscienceeliminatedtimethroughafaithindeterministic
systems.
Prigoginepointsoutthatnostalgiaforatimelessuniverseappearsinmanyofthe
argumentsofHawking.Hereplacesrealtimewithimaginarytime;thatis,realtimeis
merelyafluctuationofanimaginarytimethatrepresentsequilibrium.Prigoginealso
mentionstheworkonquantummechanicsbySchrodinger,Heisenberg,andothers.The
fundamentalequationofthatfieldpresentsalawaccordingtowhichtherearenoevents
atthebasiclevel.IntheorthodoxCopernicaninterpretation,wearecreatingtheevents
whenwemeasuresomething.Wearedisturbingatimelessuniverse.Thisismuchin
keepingwithourearlierdiscussionourapplicationofanabstractsystemactually
createstheexperience.Withthedestructionofthesetimelesssystemsandtheconceptof
irreversibility,PrigogineforeseesasecondCopernicanrevolutionarisingfromthenew
studyofnonequilibriumscience.ThisrevolutionwillleadManintocommunitywith
theuniversemarkedbyanewdialoguewithnature.
BertalanffydescribesManasseparatedfromtheanimalbyhisabilitytoconstruct
abstractionsandhavethoseabstractionsinteract.Incontrast,Prigoginearguesthatnon
equilibriumeventsBlackSwanssuggestacreativitywithinnature.Thus,wearemore
apartofnaturethenthananyotherbeingduetooursharedabilitytocreate.Wecanthen
beatharmonywithnatureandexperiencelessalienationbecauseweareclosertothe
universethatweattempttodescribe.
Inkeepingwiththisthemeofthenaturalman,HowardBloomdescribesthe
emergenceofaGlobalBrain.Inhisview,Manconstitutesthefingertipsofnatures
evolutionaryprocessandthetechnologicalprogressweseetodayisactuallyapartof
naturesevolutionaryplan.Hepointsoutthatconspicuousconsumptionisevidentin
nature(theclassicexampleofthepeacockstailfeatherswhichattractpredatorsbutserve
aconsumeristagenda)andthatthecosmosisasearchmachine,constantlylookingto
allocatesurplusandengineernewpotentialities.Thepurpose?Wearethemechanismof
thecosmosinorderthatitmighttranscenditself.Therehavebeen142massextinction
eventsduetoclimatechangewith62duringhumanhistory.Thecosmosisfillingevery
nicheontheearthwithlifeinordertoweatherthenextmassextinctionevent.The
cosmos,then,issearchingfornewspecies,newmanifestationsofitscreativeforces,and
thebestsearchengineithasinventediscapitalism.
WhiletherearemanyinsightfulpointsintheobservationsofPrigogineand
Bloom,theydonotseemtoaccuratelycharacterizeMansrelationshipwithnature.Itis
notapparentthatNatureandMancanbecomesuchhappybedfellows.Anunhappy
marriageindeed!Oneinwhichthewifekillsthehusband.NaturekillsMan.The
reintroductionoftimemeansrecognizingthedeathofMan.Thereisnothingnobleabout
deathorMansacceptanceoftheconstraintsoftime.Perhapsthisobjectionismerely
semantics,butitisimportanttonotethatunderNewProgress,Manseekstotranscend
natureandnottobeabsorbedbyit.HowardBloomfeelsMantobethefingertipsof
natureandtheproductofasuccessfulevolutionaryprocess.NewProgressstatesexactly
theopposite,believingthatnaturemadewrongassumptionsintheevolutionaryprocess
andthatMancancreatenewbiologicalsystemsthatarenotsimilarlymistaken.Mandoes
notlikethedestinythatnaturehasgivenhimsoheiscreatinghisown!

Inonesense,IagreewithPrigogine.Thelinearcausalparadigmofclassical
scienceisinsufficienttoexplainthecomplexityoftodaysmarketandofthebiological
systemsthatweareattemptingtoreplicate.Themarketiscomprisedofhumanchoices
thataremadebothrationallyandemotionallywhichmeansthatthemarketisproneto
nonlinearevents.However,Prigogineunderestimatesourabilitytoleveragetechnology
tomapbiologicalsystems.IwouldaccepttheTaleb/Prigogineassertionofsystemic
disruptions,butthatjustmeansweneedtocreateartificialsystemscapableofabsorbing
theseshocks.Also,Prigogineconsiderstheseshocksasanexpressionofthecreativity
ofnature,asiftheyareaninexplicableevent.Iwoulddisagreeandsaythatthereis
alwaysanexplanation.Despitethathisobservationsledhimtoembracenature,theyare
stillhelpfulintheircontributiontononequilibriumscienceandusefulindesigning
systemsforNewProgress.
Originally,ManthoughtthatGodwasinthetreesbecausethelimbswouldshake.
Eventually,Mandiscoveredthatthiswasinfacttheresultofwind.AsManhaspushed
backsuperstitionswithscientificdiscovery,theamountoffragmentaryknowledgehas
gottensmaller.Still,thereremainsinconvenientorcurrentlyunexplainablerealmsof
knowledge.Icallthesetherevolutionaryfragments.UndertheSonofGod
conceptionofMan,faithmeansbelievingthatthisGodcanusethesefragmentsof
knowledgethatwearenotawareoforcantcomprehendtocompletelyredefineor
disruptmanmadesystems.Doesthismeanthatthereisaninfiniteamountofknowledge
andsothatfragmentsofknowledgewillalwaysexist.Idonotknow.However,the
biblicalaccountoftheTowerofBabelisintriguingbecauseatonepointGodadmitsthat
MancanattaintheknowledgeofGod.Godsaidasheviewedthetowerrisingbefore
him,Ifasonepeoplespeakingthesamelanguagetheyhavebeguntodothis,then
nothingtheyplantodowillbeimpossibleforthem.Come,letusgodownandconfuse
theirlanguagesotheywillnotunderstandeachother.
Manisorganizingagainwithonelanguageandcreatinganewtowerbasedon
technologicalprogress.AtwhatpointwillManknowNewProgressissuccessful?When
theabstractsystemsofhiscreationtranscendfragmentaryknowledgeandcanabsorball
thepotentialitiesofnature.Thisisthecompleteredesignofnatureaccordingtothewill
ofMan.NewProgressseekstorefuteFriedrichHayekwhenhewrote,Eversincethe
beginningofmodernscience,thebestmindshaverecognizedthattherangeof
acknowledgedignorancewillgrowwiththeadvanceofscience.Unfortunately,the
populareffectofthisscientificadvancehasbeenabelief,seeminglysharedbymany
scientists,thattherangeofourignoranceissteadilydiminishingandthatwecan
thereforeaimatmorecomprehensiveanddeliberatecontrolofallhumanactivities.Itis
forthisreasonthatthoseintoxicatedbytheadvanceofknowledgesooftenbecomethe
enemiesoffreedom.Hayekmighthavebeencorrectwithrespecttosocialengineering.
However,whatHayekdidnotrecognizeistheinherentincentivefortheproponentsof
technologicalprogresstoadvocatefreedom.Theadvanceofknowledgecamenotfrom
tyrannicalcontrolofminds,butfromtheliberalizationofthepoliticalandeconomic
space,suchthatknowledgeenjoyedfreedomofmovement.Democraticcapitalismis
indeed,asHowardBloomdescribes,asearchenginedesignedbytheMastersof
Abstractiontogeneratetechnologicalprogress.Butthisisforanotherpaper

Again,Eliotwrites,
'Whatisthatnoise?'
Thewindunderthedoor.
'Whatisthatnoisenow?Whatisthewinddoing?'
Nothingagainnothing.
'Do
'Youknownothing?Doyouseenothing?Doyouremember
'Nothing?'
Iremember
Thosearepearlsthatwerehiseyes
'Areyoualive,ornot?Istherenothinginyourhead?'
But
OOOOthatShakespeherianRag
It'ssoelegant
Sointelligent
'WhatshallIdonow?WhatshallIdo?'
'IshallrushoutasIam,andwalkthestreet
'Withmyhairdown,so.Whatshallwedotomorrow?
'Whatshallweeverdo?'
Wehumans,herebetweenheavenandhell,shallcreatetheHearth,theMonadasystem
thatcantheabsorbthepotentialityofallthingsinnature.

T.S.Eliot,TheWasteland,Lines1922,117134