3: Patterns, Objectivity and Truth
4: Patterns and Processes
So far, PAChas been introduced as one epistemological system amongst others, has its ownfocus, (hopefully) strengths and weaknesses, and therefore acts like a lenswith its own focal point (s). Thisraises the question how PAC compares to other epistemological systems(theories, frameworks, schools of thought), and under the premise of limitedknowledge, they can only have their own specific strengths and weaknesses thatallows these systems to have their own focal points. With this, the whole issueof the 'science wars' becomes somewhatredundant, because we can see that the problem of epistemological systems isalways related to the concept of everything;no epistemological system -under the premise of limited knowledge- can span ascope that includes 'everything'! So science's quest towards a 'theory ofeverything' will always be conveniently constrained to exclude morality andethics, and other issues that are not inthe standard repertoire of the 'hard'sciences, while likewise a weary postmodern claim that 'everything isrelativist', 'everything is sociallyconstructed', or 'everything is a power relationship' is pushing their own explanatory boundaries. 'Everything' has to become a concept that ishighly suspect under the premise of 'limited knowledge' (for those with aninterest in logic, this includes the concept of 'not', as 'not' often signifiesa sort of 'negated (almost) everything). In PAC, this vast space that was oncereserved for 'everything' (or 'for all') and 'not' , now has been replaced withthe concept of 'uncertainty', and the correct methodological attitude towardsthis wasteland is that we cannot make any statements about it (or, morecorrectly: the only statement we can make is that we cannot make any statementabout uncertainty).
Epistemologicalsystems weave thin threads of knowledge, weaving little truths with littletruths, based on predefined truths and certain premises that start the epistemological productionprocess. PAC is no different, and therefore it can only live up to its promiseas a cross-scientific methodology if it allows transformations of one epistemological system to another. We hadalready seen that mathematics was 'integrated' in the methodology of PAC,because many mathematical concepts arepatterns. Likewise, a statement in PAC, such as "A mass-bearing particlecan observe (detect, model and act on)other mass-bearing particles" is a somewhat superfluous description thatis much better served with Newtonian mechanics. But the main point is that bothdescriptions aim to tell the same story. Both epistemological systems createnetworks of concepts that represent threads of little truths, but one is a bitmore efficient (for those who are trained to understand the ins and outs ofthat epistemological system) to predict new things and unearth hiddenconsequences; PAC can only humbly bow at the achievements of Newtonian physics,quantum mechanics and the likes. Themain point that I want to make here, is that there are a lot naturalphilosophies, such as some forms of pan-psychism and so on out there, that all concentrate onhard to grasp concepts such as 'consciousness', 'intelligence' or 'life', whileignoring the pressing issue of how these natural philosophies relate toaccepted epistemological systems such as Newtonian mechanics. Thesetransformations -and the really good ones would bring something new to othersystems as well- are also signs of a robust epistemological system (e.g. amethodology)!
And thisbrings us to a last premise of PAC. PAC follows a radical process-orientation. In PAC,our life-world is built up of patterns (structured selections of data) andprocesses that operate on these patterns. I'll be honest here, and admit thatthe notion of 'process' is poorly developed in PAC -that's why it's a premise,I can deconstruct this no more than the common-sense notion of what most of usconsider to be a process. But I would think that a process is (the result of) apattern that causes change, and therefore can act in a life-world. I can imagine that an act is always a temporalevent, and the most likely explanation I can think of is that an events is aform and thus the result of interferences of patterns. In other words, ifpatterns interfere they form, and some of these forms are eventful; they have atemporal quality. Another way of looking at this, is that in order for patternsto interfere, they already musty have a temporal quality (e.g. movement). Inany case, we might say that some patterns are eventful, and thus have theability to become a process because they can interfere with other patterns. Aspecial kind of process is one where the changes it causes feeds back ontoitself. These patterns cause their own interferences, and therefore manifestcertain forms of their own. Robert Ulanowicz (I believe) has written thatmatter is formed where hadrons are taken up in a process that feed back ontothemselves, so if this is correct, then matterwould be a form of a self-referential process (involving hadrons).
With thiswe have almost completed a sort-of natural philosophy (epistemological system)that is based on patterns, process and information (forms), and which allowstransformations to other epistemological systems. I'll admit that this sort ofabstract tomfoolery is for those who take a liking for this kind of stuff, andthat most by now may be wondering what you can do with all this. so the nextpost, I promise, will be very, very practical as we introduce the first patternof PAC!