Without Space, Without Time: Escaping the Kantian Mystique and into the Quantum Mysteries of our Brain

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The Concept of CAUSET that is currently being considered and elaborated in Quantum Gravity Theories (the Causal Set): is something we might all have to get acquainted with soon enough…and, indeed our brains and those of other mammals may already be quite familiar with it and its expression?

What is remarkable is that this structure alone suffices to reproduce (to a high degree of approximation) everything that we mean by the geometry of spacetime without the express invocation of the entire elaborate edifice of Kantian epistemology, the apriori (a dubious word if there ever was one) categories of “space” and “time” along with the essential glue that holds them together, the assumption of a continuous spacetime manifold and  causal relations within that manifold.

The novel conceptualization begins with causation as the primary determinant and then derives all the other aspects of our well-known characterization of the categories by means of which we humans do our ‘knowing’ from that basis., rather than positing those, one after the other, via various and sundry machinations as being prior to all knowing.

We are still living in very much a post Kantian age.   And in the middle of a post Kantian muddle, as well. It was Kant who gave us the model for providing a narrative of how it is that we come to “know” and thus come by our ‘knowledge’.  Science is after all, nothing but “knowledge” and we may, as the root of the world suggests,  view it as the distilled essence of “knowing”

The Kantian notion of the imposition of categories on the noumenal world by the epistemic subject who thus experience “phenomena’ in accord with such categories as “space” “time” and “causality”, was a nice scheme It was not however simple any sort of sudden and disconnected poetic   insight into the underlying human condition by Kant.

On the contrary it was a steadfast and highly motivated attempt to rationalize and create a narrative for   that age based on the remarkable impact of Newtonian physics, and the nearly overwhelming sensation of there being “universal laws’ by means of which nature conformed to our expectations and our calculations. However, that was then and this is now.

So we have to wonder. OK, there does not there seem to be much of a demand or market for a new Kantian metaphysics and epistemology to come along with a few new  impressive tomes to rationalize the latest sense of laws of nature.

Most probably that is because at the current time, while we know a helluva lot more and can manage to do acrobat cart wheels with our math and physics around the simple and limited Newtonian formulations, there is a widespread realization that, despite all that our science helps us “do” and to achieve via our technologies, we  have no absolutely  firm and seemingly complete schema  of laws of nature in which to have the kind of faith that the post-Newtonian world did in Kant’s then-dazzling laws.  Ironically with the advent of incredibly more knowledge and of incredible more achievements, we have moved from an age of certainty to an age of uncertainty

Nonetheless, the imperatives of the Kantian quest still remain.  Only now the need for any kind of philosophical narrative is to explain that” uncertainty” that seems to characterize, if not afflict our knowing rather than to motivate us to rationalize the certainty of that bygone era. Sill, we must wonder, to use Kant’s words, how are our society’s scientistis “synthetic apriori statements possible”.

We know that from the past century’s excursions into relativity theory, quantum physics and the past half century of trying to reconcile those two ways of speaking about nature, each of which surpasses the Newtonian innocence that motivated Kant. What this means is that when we come to consider our brains, and engage in neuroscience, we surely must consider, as well, that somehow those brains of ours cannot simply be assumed to process the interplay with the outside world  in terms of concepts as simple and primitive as those of Newton and Euclid.

Of course, even though we still see and tend to believe that these rather rudimentary “categorical” filters of our experience are always at play during our ordinary lives, we also, of course, recognize that these forms are derivable via mathematical formulation as the more or less superficial end product of mathematical possibilities grounded in conceptualizations much deeper than Euclidean geometry, simple calculus, and ordinary causality.

But  if we even tentatively entertain a Kantian maneuver at comprehending what has been called ‘the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics at helping us understand and indeed shape and reshape the world around us, we cannot be satisfied with  producing narratives of those brains and what they do without somehow considered that  those narratives expressed in terms of an entirely different lexicon.

We only need consider that our species has over the past few centuries managed to produce more and more dazzling, more and more esoteric, and more and more incomprehensible and deeper thrusts into the backdrop and background of our intuitions.  If our brains did not have it within themselves to provide such insights and then enable many dozens or hundreds or even thousands of others to understand those insights and then deal with and manipulate that level of mathematical sophistication, then those various creative outputs and todays’ vital mathematical world would not exist.

So this leads us, as it should,  to be exceedingly suspicious,   as we inspect the hippocampus and scrutinize that awfully cute and simple notion of the biological matrix of the brain as somehow“creating maps” of spaces for us to utilize in ancient Kantian fashion, and that, remarkably, those maps are somehow thought to be derived from some empirical intercourse with a reality shaped precisely in accordance with the ordinarily language of the neuroscientists themselves.

We must confess that it is almost droll to witness the work being done on the hippocampus and the cortex and the way in which neuroscientists speak of their operation and the limited tools that those neuroscientists bring to bear as observers of those brains.It surely might behoove them to consider whether in the brains of various species, including our own, that they set out to observe could possibly be better described in such post-Newtonian terms.

Very oddly, if we examine the mode of operation of today’s neuroscience, we see that it presupposes the very a priori nature of a Euclidean space-time framework as being somehow “represented’ in the mapping of the brains of organisms, including humans. AT least they do not have some transcendental “ego” akin to that of Kant or some divine being assuring the apriori nature of the categories of space and time, along with their necessary conceptual adjuncts of continuity and causality, but they presuppose the end result nonetheless.  In doing so, of course, they assure that any narrative they develop will be entrapped within the confines of their circular reasoning.

Why not then grasp  the hippocampus and the way it synergizes with the cortex as involved in an undertaking which is far more interesting, far more clever and far more able to explain how , over the course of our societal /cultural history, we were first able to embark on the quest for “knowing” by first  articulating those ancient versions of geometry and physics that were able to help us cope with the world around us,   ,

But why not also  realize that hippocampus and its various partners in the brain we also able operating in such a way that is surely reflected in the manner in which our culture and its incredible mathematical awareness have evolved.  This would imply   that  this self-same mathematical sense and awareness that was able to elevate that neural functioning to  ever  more sophisticated, abstract and deeper ways of expressing our place in the world had to be somehow operative during the earlier stages of our own attempts to “know’ and, indeed,  the roots of that kind of mathematical sense would be what those involved in evolutionary investigation would also have to find or intense interest.

This would be a new and improved Kantian approach of sorts.

Or at any rate it would be a step in liberating us from the constraint of Kant and Newton upon whom and in response to whom the entire Kantian edifice was constructed a couple of hundred years ago.

“Order + Number = Geometry”

The basic ideas behind the concept of a causal set  are that spacetime might not be an ultimate reality; that what Riemann (as we see in the mathematics that was used by Einstein) calls a discrete manifold might be its inner basis; that in this case the metric relationships are inherent in the discrete manifold itself; and that it is important to be able to deduce the temporal ordering of spacetime events from the deeper structure.

The idea that something which appears continuous is actually discrete is very common in physics and everyday life. It actually goes all the way back to the first atomists in ancient Greece. Any bulk piece of matter is made up of individual atoms so tightly packed that the object appears continuous to the naked eye. Likewise, any motion picture is constructed of a series of snapshots so rapidly paced that the movie appears to flow continuously.

Spacetime, as we tend to think of it today, consists of events xμ = (x0, x1, x2, x3) = (ct, x, y, z), that is, points in space at various times. At some events physical processes take place. Processes that occur at one event can only be influenced by those occurring at another event if it is possible for a photon to reach the latter event from the earlier one.

From the time of the Greeks and the Pythagorean beginnings of mathematics, the prevailing assumption of “self-evident intuition” was that our perceptual encounter with “reality” was one which was geometrically founded and understood and that nature was, as Galileo, much later expressed, written in the language of mathematics.  The prevailing view has been that “geometrical sense” and the science of geometry were primary, not only in their prior historical development, but in mathematical priority over ‘numbers”

The causal set hypothesis assumes that the structure of spacetime is discrete rather than the continuous structure that physics currently employs. Discrete means that lengths in three-dimensional space are built up out of a finite number of elementary lengths which represents the smallest allowable length in nature and the flow of time occurs in a series of individual “ticks” of duration which represents the shortest allowable time interval.

The idea that something which appears continuous is actually discrete is very common in physics and everyday life. Any bulk piece of matter is made up of individual atoms so tightly packed that the object appears continuous to the naked eye. Likewise, any motion picture is constructed of a series of snapshots so rapidly paced that the movie appears to flow continuously.

Theoretical physicists and philosophers of science are now talking endlessly about getting beyond the categories of “space” and “time” as epistemological constructs that we have inherited from Kantian times and that effort to rationalize the ever so simpler world of Newton mechanics and its laws.

Spacetime, as we tend to think of it, consists of events xμ = (x0, x1, x2, x3) = (ct, x, y, z), that is, points in space at various times. At some events physical processes take place. Processes that occur at one event can only be influenced by those occurring at another event if it is possible for a photon to reach the latter event from the earlier one.

Two events are, however, not able to be considered as causally connected if it is not possible for a photon from one event to arrive at the other; these events cannot influence each other When we speak of the causal structure of a spacetime, we mean the knowledge of which events are causally connected to which other events.

That world’s order and determinism was based on a notion..which might have just been a fairy tale- like bedtime story about a reality composed a continuous fabric of space and time, in which somehow the vicissitudes of discrete entities could be tracked and predicted.

The development of causal set theory is still far from complete. In fact, it is even less developed than some of the other approaches to quantum gravity such as superstring theory and canonical quantization mentioned previously.  But, as we see here, that “story” might have to change if the Causet theorists succeed in finding a better way of coordinating the manner in which they speak of quantum physics with Einstein’s general relativity. That, of course, would be stunning.

When viewed in this light the magnificent edifice of a continuous space-time fabric necessary to deal with causation might just be an artifact of our human civilizations attempt to adapt the basics of this other deeper structure of “reality” to our daily lives.

For us, there is something else stunning about all this. From our perspective of neuroscience we constantly ponder how it is that organisms, even simpler than the human species, and certainly including us, manage to navigate their way through a world that is thought of as being some sort of mapping of a spacetime continuum in order to be able to get around in either the mazes in their cages or the maze of life in human society.

However, what if this space-time continuum is not at all a necessary aspect of describing the world of motion and change…could it not then be suspected that the way in which our brains and those of the rats in their laboratories manage to put their moving around together is just comprised of a far more basic approach to dealing with that reality …very much that which is manifested in causal sets.

A causet, to be more precise, is a discrete set of elements – the basic spacetime building blocks or “elementary events”. But whereas in the continuum, spacetime is described, mathematically speaking, by an elaborate web of relationships among the point-events carrying information about contiguity, about smoothness, and about distances and times, for the elements of a causet the only relational information we have is what mathematicians call a “partial (or quasi-) order” – for some pairs x, y of elements (not for all!) we have the information that x comes before y, or, in other cases, that x comes after y.

What this Causal Set approach seems to do is to attempt to bring us back to our senses, in that it tells us that “time’ is not like “space’ and indeed that time notions may be prior to those of geometry.  More specifically it presents time as dependent on succession and ordering, just as are the natural numbers…and sees that relation as prior.  Within that interpretation, then the various measurements of time that arise can be understood, not as primary, but as secondary to the ordering nature of time itself.

Here, in the context of the causal set theory, the concept of “ordering” is sufficient to eventually give us a grasp of the physical nature we seek to describe and  our geometrical intuitions are considered secondary and epiphenomenal in effect and thus “number” takes precedence

Physically, you should think of this ordering as a microscopic counterpart of the macroscopic relation of before and after in time: For some events, we know that they take place after certain other events. (The word “causal” comes in because we say that an event is later than another event if the latter could exert a causal influence on the former.)

Two events are, however, not able to be considered as causally connected if it is not possible for a photon from one event to arrive at the other; these events cannot influence each other   When we speak of the causal structure of a spacetime, we mean the knowledge of which events are causally connected to which other events.

Various writings on the foundations of mathematics and in particular Godel’s work on this issue, where he argued that the intuitions of time and order were separate from and not to be construed into the secondary intuitions of geometry and space, are quite consistent with what the Causal Set theorists are exploring.

With this emphasis on “ordering” rather than measurement of distances, there is also a significant reevaluation of the nature of “time” versus “space” ..and just what “time” might mean or be interpretable as meaning, especially if we realize that our prevailing concept of ‘time” nowadays if very much modeled on a geometric notions of space…with points in time situation along a continuum.

(This essay by Sorkin has a few “bumpy” spots for the person not currently struggling with the concept of quantum gravity…but it is remarkably clear in the impression it gives us of this novel approach to the primary categories of our experience, space and time. via the ‘Causal Set Theory)

http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/causal_sets

This notion  of the relation between the concepts and primary of “number” versus “geometry” is a profound change in the manner in which our civilization from its earliest scientific gropings has considered number and geometry to be related.

It does not seem to have ever  been clear to our scientists and philosophers just where ‘numbers’ came into the picture, and we note that even now, after the turmoil of the Principia Mathematica, the collapse of ‘naive set theory” and simple Peano arithmetical rationalizations, we still have no more “intuitive” notion of what in the world “numbers are”. The Zermelo attempts to patch “naive set theory” are not at all convincing although they seem to satisfy various formalistically devoted mathematician-scholars.

Somehow our civilization’s notion of “time” which is so closely related to numbers and the recursive progression of counting has, as a result, been stereotyped and confined to a model really based on geometry and space rather than being given its own due and its own respect as a “concept’.

We tend to speak of ‘instants’ in time as if they were “points” in a geometrical coordinate system of only one dimension. We then tend to speak of “duration” between such points as if it were a “distance measure”. And we come up with  millennia worth of paradoxes and contradictions when just speaking about the concept of ‘time’, even before we get to attempt to integrate that concept into a physics that considers “motion” and “change” and thus must utilize both space and time.

That the concept of “time” has been more or less disrespected as nothing more than a second-rate ‘space”, and that the relation of time to the natural numbers has been supplanted by the cartooning of ‘time” in terms of geometry is never more clear than in how our modern notions of spacetime post Einstein’s “special theory” has also failed to provide an intuitively satisfactory rendering.

To some extent, although we cannot comment on this fully, while “time” was recognized in the Lorentzian transformations upon which special relativity was based, as being crucial to be considered as not “absolute’ and silent in our efforts to understand the world but rather had to be understood independently as varying with frames of reference, it is not at all clear that its representation as just another dimension, the fourth one, along with the three geometrical dimensions of space, hence, as just another geometrical dimension, was truly well advised.

The provocative  idea that space might be discrete goes back at least to Zeno, and in more recent times Bernhard Riemann wrote in 1854, in a lecture that laid the foundations of the geometry of curved spaces.

“The question of the validity of the presuppositions of geometry in the infinitely small hangs together with the question of the inner ground of the metric relationships of space. In connection with the latter question… the above remark applies, that for a discrete manifold, the principle of its metric relationships is already contained in the concept of the manifold itself, whereas for a continuous manifold, it must come from somewhere else. Therefore, either the reality which underlies physical space must form a discrete manifold or else the basis of its metric relationships should be sought for outside it[…].

In a continuous space (like that of Euclidean geometry) there are between any two points always an infinity of others, and every volume can be divided into smaller and smaller volumes without limit. In a discrete space, in contrast, any bounded region is composed of a finite number of elements or “building blocks”, and the process of subdivision must always come to an end at some stage.

Riemann’s point, then, is that a discrete space has metric information built-in from the start. It is easy to see the truth of this: For instance, simply counting the elements composing a region of space provides a natural measure of that region’s volume. For a continuous space, in contrast, this possibility to count elements is lacking (you’d just get infinity for the answer) and the origin of the metric relationships has to be explained in some other manner.

A century later, Einstein, who had taken over Riemann’s concept of a continuous curved space for the theory of general relativity (but now as spacetime rather than just space) also doubted whether, deep down, continuity could persist:

According to the underlying intuitions of causal set theory, it appears now that the confidence in the world’s order and determinism was based on a notion..which might have just been a fairy tale- like bedtime story about a reality composed a continuous fabric of space and time, in which somehow the vicissitudes of discrete entities could be tracked and predicted and that “story” was precisely what allowed Newton’s formulations and the wonders achieved thereafter..

As we see here, that “story” might have to change if the Causet  theorists succeed in finding a better way of coordinating the manner in which they speak of quantum physics with Einstein’s general relativity.  That, of course, would be stunning.

The development of causal set theory is still far from complete. In fact, it is even less developed than some of the other approaches to quantum gravity such as superstring theory and canonical quantization mentioned previously.

A more detail introductory discussion to Causal Sets is found here:Introduction to causal sets: an alternate view of spacetime structure https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9909075

It is now well established that the causal structure of spacetime alone determines almost all of the information needed to specify the metric and therefore the gravitational field tensor.

“What is remarkable, says Sorkin, ‘” is that this structure alone suffices to reproduce (to a high degree of approximation) everything that we mean by the geometry of spacetime.

It’s not easy to imagine space and time being made of something else. Where would the components of space and time exist, if not in space and time?

“The meaning of time has become terribly problematic in contemporary physics,” says Simon Saunders, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford. “The situation is so uncomfortable that by far the best thing to do is declare oneself an agnostic.”

The trouble with time started a century ago, when Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity demolished the idea of time as a universal constant. One consequence is that the past, present, and future are not absolutes. Einstein’s theories also opened a rift in physics because the rules of general relativity (which describe gravity and the large-scale structure of the cosmos) seem incompatible with those of quantum physics (which govern the realm of the tiny

 

Einstein wrote, “In any case, it seems to me that the alternative continuum-discontinuum is a genuine alternative; i.e. there is no compromise here. In [a discontinuum] theory there cannot be space and time, only numbers[…]. It will be especially difficult to elicit something like a spatio-temporal quasi-order from such a schema. I can not picture to myself how the axiomatic framework of such a physics could look[…]. But I hold it as altogether possible that developments will lead there[…].

Sorkin states, “When the deeper structure is a causet this last requirement is, despite Einstein’s misgivings, not especially difficult, because a causet incorporates an order relation by its very definition. Indeed it is this order relation.”

The possibility that time may not exist is known among physicists as the “problem of time.” It may be the biggest, but it is far from the only temporal conundrum. Vying for second place is this strange fact: The laws of physics don’t explain why time always points to the future.  All the laws—whether Newton’s, Einstein’s, or the quirky quantum rules—would work equally well if time ran backward. As far as we can tell, though, time is a one-way process; it never reverses, even though no laws restrict it.

“One finds that time just disappears from the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,” says Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France. “It is an issue that many theorists have puzzled about. It may be that the best way to think about quantum reality is to give up the notion of time—that the fundamental description of the universe must be timeless.”

Theoretical physicists and philosophers of science are now talking and debating endlessly about getting beyond the categories of “space” and  of “time” , as  well, as epistemological constructs that we have inherited from Kantian times and that effort to rationalize the ever so simpler world of Newton mechanics and its laws.

In April of 2011, in two papers in Physics Essays, Amrit Sorli, Davide Fiscaletti, and Dusan Klinar, begin by explaining how we usually assume that time is an absolute physical quantity that plays the role of the independent variable (time, t, is often the x-axis on graphs that show the evolution of a physical system). But, as they note, we never really measure t. What we do measure is an object’s frequency and speed. But, by itself, t has only a mathematical value, and no primary physical existence.

This view doesn’t mean that time does not exist, but that time has more to do with space than with the idea of an absolute time. 

So while 4D spacetime is usually considered to consist of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, the researchers’ view suggests that it’s more correct to imagine spacetime as four dimensions of space. In other words, as they say, the Universe is “timeless.”  However, the approach more and more in physics y is not just to try to put the articulated “Humpty Dumpty” together again…as a 4D hybrid of “space-time’ but to focus of the sequencing of causes as being prior.  In this other

Replacing time with numerical order is one means of shifting the onus of responsibility from some supposed “reality” of material change (used by the researchers below) that, for them, resolves Zeno problems of motion

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235989058_Replacing_time_with_numerical_order_of_material_change_resolves_Zeno_problems_of_motion

The authors write, “In Newtonian physics as well as in standard quantum mechanics, time is postulated as a special physical quantity and plays the role of the independent variable of physical evolution. Newton or Hamilton equations, as well as the Schrödinger equation, are introduced on the basis of the underlying assumption that there exists an idealized, absolute time t in which the dynamics is defined.”

“However,’they add, “ it is an elementary observation that we never really measure , that it does not ever appear in laboratory measurements: we rather measure the frequency, speed and numerical order of material change. What experimentally exists is only the motion of a system and the thick of a clock. What we realize in every experiment is to compare the motion of the physical system under consideration with the motion of a peculiar clock described by a peculiar thick T.

 Most of us tend to think of time the way Newton did: “Absolute, true and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably, without regard to anything external.”

But as Einstein proved, time is part of the fabric of the universe. Contrary to what Newton believed, our ordinary clocks don’t measure something that’s independent of the universe.

In fact, says Lloyd, clocks don’t really measure time at all.

“I recently went to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder,” says Lloyd. (NIST is the government lab that houses the atomic clock   that standardizes time for the nation.) “I said something like, ‘Your clocks measure time very accurately.’ They told me, ‘Our clocks do not measure time.’ I thought, Wow, that’s very humble of these guys. But they said, ‘No, time is defined to be what our clocks measure.’ Which is true. They define the time standards for the globe: Time is defined by the number of clicks of their clocks.”

 

Although the laws of physics themselves don’t provide for an arrow of time, the ongoing expansion of the universe does. As the universe expands, it becomes ever more complex and disorderly. The growing disorder—physicists call it an increase in entropy—is driven by the expansion of the universe, which may be the origin of what we think of as the ceaseless forward march of time.

Time, in this view, is not something that exists apart from the universe. There is no clock ticking outside the cosmos. “What happens with the Wheeler-DeWitt equation is that we have to stop playing this game. Instead of introducing this fictitious variable—time, which itself is not observable—we should just describe how the variables are related to one another. The question is, Is time a fundamental property of reality or just the macroscopic appearance of things? I would say it’s only a macroscopic effect. It’s something that emerges only for big things.”

 

We never really see time,” he says. “We see only clocks. If you say this object moves, what you really mean is that this object is here when the hand of your clock is here, and so on. We say we measure time with clocks, but we see only the hands of the clocks, not time itself. And the hands of a clock are a physical variable like any other. So in a sense we cheat because what we really observe are physical variables as a function of other physical variables, but we represent that as if everything is evolving in time.

 

This means that the duration of material motions has not a primary physical existence, that time as humans perceive it does not exist as an absolute quantity, that time does not flow on its own and thus does not exist as a primary physical reality”.  They propose that time exists only as a measuring system for the numerical order of material motion and therefore that only the numerical order of the motion of the system under consideration, which is obtained by the clock under consideration, exists

The claim is made “that without using concept of time as a forth dimension of space-time one can describe physical world more accurately; in the universe nothing can happen in “past-present-future” that is merely a psychological frame into which we experience material change running in space. In physics symbol t has only mathematical value; it describes numerical order of material change running in space.”

This change would not mean that “time” truly is an illusion, nor would it mean that “time is essentially static and eternal”  It would not argue for the primacy of either “being” or “becoming”, but it would mean that much would have to be adjusted in our view of the world.

Those who dismiss “Time” as merely illusion such as Robert Lanza or Max Tegmark, for example, do so ill advisedly, strictly because they cannot conceive of it as ‘real” because they already defined real as spatial.  That stigmatizing  notion of ‘illusion” is dependent for its use on a rather limited notion of “reality”.

Once this idea of ‘reality” is exposed as being presupposed from the outset as  nothing more than  essentially a model of the universe without ‘time” ,then all we are left with to claim as “real”is some approximation to a  geometrically defined space.  ,Of course, then, the concept of ‘time’ made homeless, is now  a notion of ‘disembodied” and can have no place within a “reality” that is essentially modeled spatially. So it is then labeled as “illusion”.

There is more truth that we might suspect, when only guided by the epistemological models passed down to us from Kantian times, to the well-known Borges quote.The poet, Borges,  here alerts to the nature of ‘time” as grounded within us and our living….but yet not at all as merely “subjective” either.

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

Einstein, himself, has noted that “TIme is an illusion but a very persistent one”  This is quite understandable   It is, on the one hand, an illusion insofar it cannot be said to be  it is “present in some way as are the elements of space in its three dimension” .  But , on the other hand, it is persistent because it always a part of every narrative, even as we speak and our speech unfolds over time as we might be claiming that ‘time is an illusion”.

we are always there “observing” knowing and telling the story of our knowledge.  So ‘time” is part of the telling of the story  and us and not a  part of the events of the story situate-able in any way within the spatial domain of “reality”  . It is what helps us picture something but is not part of the picture.

The causal set theory does not have pretend to give us a picture of any such ‘reality”.  What seems to have occurred in the formulation of this approach is that “time” and “space” have been separated out and not allowed to entwine as they were allowed to do implicitly in Newtonian mechanics and then, more explicitly, in Einstein’s special relativity.

The view of ‘Time” that emerges  in both physics and in neuroscience is that there is fundamental “ordering’ by the organism of its experiences that in our human experience  as been developed to a point where we speak about “time” and “space” as a continuous manifold of which we are presumably an uneasy part.

The causal set theory relinquishes the attempt to put together our view of the world from these two abstract conceptual “building blocks” which, from Kant’s moment onward, have been considered the a priori basis of all “knowing” and all experiencing.  Instead it focuses the “ordering” of events via causal relation as the fundamental and then deduces the other aspects of our customary space-time manifold and its metrics from that causal basis.

More likely, there would be two steps involved: first we would develop a new narrative articulated through the auspices of our physicists in speaking about our world , and then, presumably, in time, as with all scientific conceptual innovations, that narrative would begin to be felt in how we, individually, and in everyday, life experience the world.

The concept of “time” would then not be dismissed as “illusion” but also not be considered part of that stereotyped domain of spatially defined “reality”.  As the physicist, Roger Penrose, has recently written,

“our present picture of physical reality, particularly in relation to the nature of time, is due for a grand shake up”

It seems to me that we must make a distinction between what is “objective” and what is “measurable” in discussing the question of physical reality, according to quantum mechanics. “

http://discovermagazine.com/2009/sep/06-discover-interview-roger-penrose-says-physics-is-wrong-string-theory-quantum-mechanics

Causet theory is another approach to defining more carefully what we mean by “objective” without burdening that definition with an entirely “spatial” model that is formulated essentially without  addressing to or speaking about ‘time”.

For science to state that it cannot appropriately or effectively speak of directly experiencing or encountering “time” is not at all the same thing as to say that they have the belief that there is no such thing as “time” there for them to encounter and measure. This is the meaning of saying that “reality’ as characterized by the prevalent fashion till today’s science is ‘timeless”.  That the conceptualization does not speak of looking for or, for that matter, finding “time” someWHERE….or somehow

Time would then be something else entirely from how we tend to conceive  and pigeonhole it today. or, for that matter, how neuroscience and psychological research tend to try to understand it or explain it in any kind of coherent narrative. And ultimately we believe for the way we go about exploring the brain in neuroscience (see below)

For us, there is something else stunning about all this. From our perspective of neuroscience we constantly ponder how it is that organisms, even simpler than the human species, and certainly including us, manage to navigate their way through a world that is thought of as being some sort of mapping of a spacetime continuum in order to be able to get around in either the mazes in their cages or the maze of life in human society.

However, what if  we go along with the causal set theorists, then this space-time continuum we have had such faith in since the time of Newton and then of Kant, who labored to rationalize the validity of the Newtonian laws,  is not at all a necessary aspect of describing the world of motion and change…could it not then be suspected that the way in which our brains and those of the rats in their laboratories manage to put their moving around together is just comprised of a far more basic approach to dealing with that reality …very much that which is manifested in causal sets.

We have an inkling that the notion of causal set is not just potentially of important to theoretical physicists but also seems to point the way to a better neuroscience understanding of how the brain works, and, along with that, as is always the case, the way the brain works reflects much on how evolution has worked.

It has been one of the truly daunting aspects of cognitive psychology, which is still heavily ensconced, as we all are, in the Kantian epistemology and the apriori nature of space, time, continuum and causality which are the basis of Kant’s model,  to ever get to the point where the apparently omnipresent and inescapable experiential framework of space time in which we dwell is given any kind of cogent rationalizing narrative.

Of course, for decades, culminating in the Moser’s work on the hippocampus, efforts have been made to understand how the hippocampus manages to somehow provide us, as well as other organisms, with a way of navigating adaptively and accurately through the Kantian-like space-time which we experience in our daily lives and which the neuroscientists then believe must somehow arise via organismic functioning.

To us, it seems a bit outlandish for those work on the notions of time and space in neuroscience today to undertake a project through which they hope to somehow might ‘connect the dots” between the neurobiological matrix of the brain of the everyday laboratory rodent trying to get through the experimenter’s maze and that vast navigational edifice understood through those Kantian categories.

The rather unlikely aspect of the project is based on more than a mere measure of the humongous distance in terms of sophisticated or complexity between the two sets of data that we have available to us.  The evolutionary paradigm allows us some wiggle room, in fact quite a bit in terms of express connection of those dots between species of all sorts on our planet. The reason for pessimism is in fact different.

We truly have to wonder if those current efforts to understand the rodents’ way of navigating intelligently within a space they come to ‘know’ that rely on a vocabulary of Euclidean space in an absolute time are merely the product of some sort of woefully naive  attempt to leverage off  an assumption that they can  experience   “what it feels like to be a rat” (much as  Thomas Nagel notoriously and, we believe, so foolishly, thought he or we  might ascertain “what it feels like to be a bat”).

Or, on the other hand, do  these illustrious Nobel prize-winning  researchers believe that, since the classical Euclidean spacetime framework is such nature to them it is the provides either some “inner”, even if not some “outer” ‘reality”, to which they must refer in order to provide a narrative of the working of the rat brain and ultimately of ours as well indeed?

Surely, and quite ironically, the issue of “continuity’ here arises  in another guise, insofar as there seems no way for models guiding neuroscience thought  to “get here from there”, from the talk of the biological matrix of  brain and its cellular ensembles to the talks of the Kantian categories of knowledge.

It has been  our growing suspicion that the problem of accounting for how  the ever-present Kantian epistemology (to which we all adhere, either wittingly or unwittingly) has emerged  and to somehow chart its’ development within an individual person’s mind from birth through experience is only likely to be resolved ..by first clarifying the phrasing of the question…and not dooming any narrative with the need to jump a gulf between two such discordant domains, between classic notions of mind and body.

It turns out that the intuitively phrased doubt we have expressed about the possibility that our brains and those of rodents and other mammals need to be understood in contexts more conceptually basic than Euclidean geometries  has been shared by those how have recently provoked researched  the question, “Can the brain map ‘non-conventional’ geometries (and abstract spaces)? and, more precisely,  .have asked “Can rodents conceive hyperbolic spaces?

If a rat can express an orderly representation of a Euclidean space,” they ask”  or it can also adapt to an environment defined by a non-Euclidean metric.

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-brain-map-geometries.html#jCp

If we grant that the brains of our theoretical physicists have allowed them to reverse engineer, as it were, everyday Kantian epistemological framework of continuous spacetime manifolds that we ‘experience” in order to unravel the perplexities and paradoxes of today’s physics, then surely those same findings must be the clue to how those human brains that are the perplexing and paradox-causing subject matter of today’s neuroscience have been able to construct that edifice of “experience’ which demanding the “unraveling” of physics.

“It took human culture millennia to arrive at a mathematical formulation of non-Euclidean spaces”, comments SISSA neuroscientist Alessandro Treves, “but it’s very likely that our brains could get there long before. In fact, it’s likely that the brain of rodents gets there very naturally every day”.

They write, “ In 2005, discovery  b y Edvard and May-Britt Moser of grid cells, neurons of the entorhinal cortex of rodents that fire in a characteristic way when the animal moves in an arena, has recently been awarded the Nobel Prize.  But,” they add, reflecting our own questioning,  all experiments conducted to date have involved flat (Euclidean) surfaces. So what happens with other types of surface? they ask

The starting point for traditional research on how the brain might develop an ability to navigate is the formation of these brain “maps”. “There are two main classes of theoretical models that attempt to explain it, but both of them assume that our brain contains some kind of “engineer” that has prepared things appropriately…  These models take for granted that the system originates with substantial prior knowledge,

Grid cells in rodents  have been proposed to comprise a Euclidean metric of physical space providing at the neuronal population level a single common gauge to measure the environment   “But, is it necessarily Euclidean? “ they ask. “If non-Euclidean grid cells were discovered in rodents, still sufficiently regular to be characterized as providing a metric of space, it would indicate that, in contrast to Kant’s view, spatial experience contributes to shape cognitive representations of space

“In contrast this point of view starts with a self-organizing model, which simulates the behaviour of ‘artificial’ grid cells capable of learning by exploring the environment,  one should be able to infer whether the rat brain can only express an orderly representation of a Euclidean space, or it can also adapt to an environment defined by a non-Euclidean metric.” When raised in a non-Euclidean hyperbolic cage rats should be able to form hyperbolic grids.

Grid cells, space-mapping neurons of the entorhinal cortex of rodents, could also work for hyperbolic surfaces “in the settings of this research they show that “our artificial grid cell shows the same hexagonal symmetrical firing pattern seen in biological cells”. However, with a pseudospherical surface, the firing pattern has a heptagonal, seven-point, symmetry

For an account of the ongoing conceptual battle to integrate our view of the brain with our physicist’s view of nature, see this: Decoding Space and Time in the Brain

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/decoding-space-and-time-in-the-brain/

“If our experience of time and space share similar neural correlates,” they write, ‘ it begets a fundamental question: are space and time truly distinct in the mind, or are they the product of a generalized neuro-cognitive system that allows us to understand the world? While Kant had much more to say about space than time, contemporary cognitive neuroscientists have begun composing theories to address this question.”

The review article begins this way:

“”…henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union between the two will preserve an independent reality.”

“This now iconic quote spoken by Hermann Minkowski in 1906 captured the spirit of Albert Einstein’s recently published special theory of relativity. Einstein, in a stroke of mathematical genius, had shown that both space and time as independent mathematical constructs were mere illusions in the equations of relativity, conceding instead to a 4-dimensional construct which Minkowski adroitly termed space-time.

They go on, “While most people are familiar with the ensuing influence Einstein’s ideas had on both the academic and public conception of the physical universe, few people are aware a similar revolution against space and time is underway in the fields of experimental psychology and neuroscience. “

One proposal to which this article points is “ …. that the primary function of the hippocampus isn’t to think about past and future, or to move about through space per se.”

Recent research “suggests that the hippocampus is able to tune its activity to both spatial and temporal aspects of an experience, depending on what type of information needs to be encoded or recalled.

The issues with neuroscience research into the brain’s handling of space and time, and in particular in relation to the hippocampus are more closely examined in this review, New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time  https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160126-how-the-brain-maps-time/

“Researchers,” they say, “ have defined the brain areas involved in movement, memory, color vision and other functions, but not the ones that monitor time. Indeed, our neural timekeeper has proved so elusive that most scientists assume this mechanism is distributed throughout the brain, with different regions using different monitors to keep track of time according to their needs.

They point out that  many scientists still view the hippocampus as a largely spatial structure. According to that prevalent but, to us, forlorn and woebegone argument, neural circuitry evolved to keep track of location, and everything else is just recorded on top of it. “The hippocampus provides a code that is fundamentally spatial in nature,” says one such more dogmatic researcher.

Research findings, however, indicate  that so-called “place “cells can represent information beyond place,  and that research suggests  that perhaps both grid cells and other GPS-like cells aren’t tuned only to space but are capable of encoding any relevant property: time, smell or even taste.  For example, “a wine taster might have a space of wine tastes and smells,” “It probably points to a broad thing the hippocampus does, “It figures out the relevant axis for encoding experiences and then uses the cells to map those experiences.”

For  György Buzsáki, a neuroscientist at New York University’s Neuroscience Institute the problem is a different one and one that resonates with the research cited here.  ,He proposes that rather than monitoring either space or monitoring time itself, these cells in the hippocampus are doing something else

For him  as for us, “the issue goes beyond neuroscience and reaches into physics. Physicists consider space-time as a cohesive, four-dimensional entity, a fabric upon which the objects and events of the universe are embedded.

“Neuroscience must converge back to the old problem of physics: Are there place and time cells? Or is there only a single time-space-continuum representation in the brain?”

Of course that particular elaborate categorical edifice has been quite impossible to connect up in any way with an organisms functioning…and especially to see it in the context, not only of a biological creature in its own experiences but over evolutionary time as in any way related to other less mammals, birds, reptiles…and more.

When viewed in this light the magnificent edifice of a continuous space-time fabric necessary to deal with causation might just be an artifact of our human civilizations attempt to adapt the basics of this other deeper structure of “reality” to our daily lives.

For him  as for us, “the issue goes beyond neuroscience and reaches into physics. Physicists consider space-time as a cohesive, four-dimensional entity, a fabric upon which the objects and events of the universe are embedded. “Neuroscience must converge back to the old problem of physics: Are there place and time cells? Or is there only a single time-space-continuum representation in the brain?”

“That’s the number-one problem, according to Buzsaki:   Are there dedicated neurons in the brain doing nothing else but keeping track of time?”

”Rather than monitoring time itself, these cells are doing something else — remembering a path through a maze or plotting the animal’s next move. Both memories and future plans unfold in time, so time cells may simply reflect this mental activity,”  providing an organizing system for our never-ending series of past experiences.

This expanded view of the hippocampus, beyond simply a primitive Euclidean mapmaker outside of time resonates with the work above where they explored further how “gird cells” might be working when view as capable of non Euclidean navigations.

“Grid cells, the space-mapping neurons of the entorhinal cortex of rodents,” they note, “could also work for hyperbolic surfaces.

The observation of a heptagonal symmetry in new experimental conditions – which would show that the brain is able to encode a non-Euclidean space – would also suggest that grid cells might play a role in mapping many other types of space, “including abstract spaces”,

As Treves, the neuroscientist researching non-Euclidean navigational capabilities in the rodents, says”Try to imagine what we might define as the space of movements, or the space of the different expressions of the human face, or shapes of a specific object, like a car: these are continuous spaces that could be mapped by cells that are not the same but are similar to grid cells.”

The hippocampus researcher, Buzsaki, adds, “  Do all neurons have functions that happen in sequential order, which for the experimenter can be translated into time?”

This implies a “ broad thing the hippocampus does,” according to others trying to get down to understanding the hippocampus as if functions, without being saddled by the ordinary language biases that constrain research into thinking only in terms of the space and time experience we know and seeking the correlates of those particular aspects of our experiences. “it figures out the relevant axis for encoding experiences and then uses the cells to map those experiences.”

This leads us to consider that the mystery of how an organism can arrive at the achievement of navigations in the world that suggest to observers of todays’ “ordinary language usage” that they might somehow be in the process of elaborating the equivalent of a sophisticated Kantian epistemological framework, and one which has not ever yet been resolved, might not be the central and mystery that needs unraveling at all.

Perhaps those organisms might be functioning in another more basic and primordial way which does not eventuate from those creatures having taken an unfortunate detour through the ordinary language usage and logic of ancient Greek times.  They may not be constructing those supposed “a priori”  categories of  Newtonian/Euclidean hearsay  at all.  Instead they might actual be capable of revealing in the ways that their brains work how it is that our own passing through that stage of Euclidean/Newtonian “natural intuition” may be arisen?  And even more stunningly the inner workings of the biology that allows all creatures great and small to move through what seems to be ‘space and time”,  may help us comprehend just how todays radical and novel approach to “speaking about reality” may be in essence a kind of going “back to the future”.

By the same token, the reciprocal argument can also be made.  If we grant that the brains of our theoretical physicists have allowed them to reverse engineer, as it were, the roots of the antediluvian sprouting of the everyday Kantian epistemological framework of continuous spacetime manifolds that we ‘experience” in order to unravel the perplexities and paradoxes of today’s physics, then surely those same findings –and their logic and structure —must be the clue as to how those human brains, the  perplexing and paradox-causing subject matter of today’s neuroscience,  have been able to be part of the evolution of that “experience’ which now seems to demand a wholesale revision of all physics and of what, indeed, we mean by ‘knowing”

The idea that the evolutionary lineage of this planet’s  organisms’ brain’s has somehow had to be  responsible for creating the elaborate and shaky Kantian epistemological framework of Newtonian/Euclidean categories of mind in order to allow those organisms get around either in mazes or in life..is somehow less than credible.  This kind of narrative would necessitate yet another and equally gross breaching of that mind/matter divide  of vocabularies, to connect “the dots” between the biological matrix of brain tissue and the imposing cathedral-like abstraction of apriori categories of space, time, causality, and the rest of our Homo sapiens razzle dazzle.

Instead we may be close to a new narrative which our sciences can articulate through which  biology of the brain may be more easily described  dependent upon and as working in the context of the less arcane a models introduced by causal set theorists abandonment of the rigidities of spacetime.

To us, it is also remarkable, as we observe the most recent research in the work on neurons and on the microtubules, the major components of the cell structural skeleton, and the proteins that now are seen to determine how it is that neurons function, that the level of interactions of which we must speak have reached infinitesimal levels of size and time that were heretofore  considered to not possible within cellular life.

As far back as 1948, Erwin Schrödinger — the inventor of modern quantum mechanics — published the book ‘What is life?’ In it, he suggested that quantum mechanics and coherent ringing might be at the basis of all biochemical reactions. At the time, this idea never found wide acceptance because it was generally assumed that vibrations in protein molecules would be too rapidly damped. Now, scientists have shown that he may have been on the right track after all.

Scientists have been able to measure the vibrational spectrum of the enzyme lysozyme, a protein that fights off bacteria and have found that  they vibrate at the same frequency as the light they absorb.

Symphony of life, revealed: New imaging technique captures vibrations of proteins, tiny motions critical to human life

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603092424.htm

They discovered that this enzyme rings like a bell with a frequency of a few terahertz or a million-million hertz.  Most remarkably, the ringing involves the entire protein, meaning the ringing motion could be responsible for the transfer of energy across proteins. They identified which sections of the protein vibrated and the fact that they vibrate at the same frequency as the light they absorb.

The experiments show that the ringing motion lasts for only a picosecond or one millionth of a millionth of a second. Biochemical reactions take place on a picosecond timescale and the scientists believe that evolution has optimized enzymes to ring for just the right amount of time.

The well-known and, some would contend, notorious, theories of Penrose and Hameroff suggested that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were “orchestrated” (“Orch”) by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose “objective reduction” (‘OR’), hence “Orch OR.”

The theory was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too “warm, wet, and noisy” for seemingly delicate quantum processes..  However, evidence has now shown warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules.

Penrose, now more recently writes, “ Other theories consider consciousness to be due to complex computation among brain neurons. We think consciousness and understanding are not really just computation, but require something else, some type of quantum physical process intrinsic to the universe.”

The question they raise is one which has some overlap with our own point of view, although we see no need to progress to the “spiritual” aspects of this research. “ Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert?  Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?”

But the ‘meaning of having been here all along” is one which implies that the same underlying self organizational principles by means of which neurons in other species with less sophisticated cerebral repertoires can be seen as responsible for the “higher level” phenomena of consciousness.

The “computational model” does not answer any of these questions, but “merely passes the buck ‘as it were by assuming that there phenomena of consciousness somehow arise magically from the sophisticated level of interaction between neurons, where, sad to say,  neurons , when not seen as more deeply than the “activation related “wiring units of an engineering interpretation.

Interestingly we may find in the farthest reaches of the theories of modern physics for the clues as to how we might liberate ourselves from the computational model of the brains functioning and begin to re awaken an awareness of the value of a truly “organismic” model.  While the organizational processes are not visible when we look at the neurons as little more than wiring elements in a network, they emerge when we look deeper.

Hameroff adds, “Biologically, these quantum processes occur at a deeper level, smaller, faster scale inside brain neurons, in protein structures called microtubules which seem to be natural quantum resonators, and can store and process memory and information.”

They suggest, that the kind of phenomena of which we speak when we and our neuroscientists speak of “ consciousness” derive from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, ‘proto-conscious’ quantum structure of reality.”

Microtubule quantum vibrations (e.g. in megahertz) appear to interfere and produce much slower EEG “beat frequencies.” Despite a century of clinical use, the underlying origins of EEG rhythms have remained a mystery.

Clinical trials of brief brain stimulation aimed at microtubule resonances with megahertz mechanical vibrations using transcranial ultrasound have shown reported improvements in mood, and may prove useful against Alzheimer’s disease and brain injury in the future. From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.”

For us this ‘proto conscious” structure of “reality” is more aptly considered as the “proto conscious” of our neurobiological structure as it has emerged over evolutionary time.

There is a good summary of the general significance of their work here (along with a video interview)

https://www.elsevier.com/connect/q-and-a-2-renowned-physicists-on-the-controversial-theory-of-consciousness

Once our neuroscience manages to free itself from Kant and to think in terms of the striking results showing us how the proteins in the microtubules operate in quantum level manner then we can perhaps utilize a  causal set based approach to the events within those cells  “place and time “ cells as a means to obtaining a more cogent narrative of how it is that navigations by organisms arises in terms of some ‘mapping’ like phenomenon.

What this means is that in whichever fashion it is that the billions of neurons may do their work, it need not be something  that is only  interpretable in the  narrative based on the heretofore self-evident epistemology of ordinary language and   the Euclidean characterizations of  “place” or ‘time’ cells  and even “grid cells’ in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, respectively.

That is not to say that these cells are not involved, but that the narrative that our neuroscientists provide has to go beyond that of Euclidean geometry and Kantian categories as the model which they themselves use to speak and which thus they also seek to relate within the domain they study as emergent from the neurobiology of the organism.

When we look at the brain and at what the hippocampus and the cortex work out together to allow navigation we need not assume that the brain must yield…..as the first and primary step in the process of provide a mapping for navigation….some sort of Newtonian/Euclidean space time…

It may well be a more promising means to somehow lend coherence and perhaps a tad of cogency to our talk about our characteristically human categorical framework for all our experience, when it is viewed in more fundamental causal set terms than  that of the now vestigial and grand Kantian epistemology.   This re evaluation of the primacy of the  “order” aspect of number vis-a-vis the geometry of spacetime may provide a far more accessible and organismically rooted means of developing such a narrative.

The notion of a basic mathematical sense of ‘ordering” and the recursive nature of motor movements as they are exhibited in all animal organisms and the manner in which the brain organization of those motor movements is the key to all life forms’ successful existence and survival in the world.  It surely is prior in a basic way to the notion of metrics by means of which some “distance” is gauged between the outcome of successive “movements” of one kind or another. Why should it not also be now explored as the key to our “experience” of our existence and survival in that world.

We see in the discoveries of quantum physics, not a spiritual or otherwise fanciful argument for the elevation of the concept of  the fanciful  popular airy-fairy notion“consciousness” babble of those pop carnival barkers like Choprah onto an ontological level of discussion.  Far from it.

On the contrary, these discoveries of quantum physics suggest  strongly that the phenomena within neurons that determine how they function and synchronize must be articulated in terms of  quantum domain considerations, go hand in hand with the causal set theory approach which suggests that on that :fine-grained” level it is discreteness that counts.

When we no longer  adhere to the belief  that the ‘reality” which our brains must grasp in order to yield our conscious “experience”, replete with all its considerations of space time, continuity and causality —is any differently structured.from the quantum level of “reality” that now is picturable via causal set theory, then we no longer need to adhere to the belief that the billions of cells in the brain and their zillions of components arise from considerations, real life considerations, on the same level of discourse.

Thus, if we indeed thrive in  our everyday experience of spacetime continuity , that luxury is likely only possible because the neurons, and the yet further worlds within those neurons, are describable in a narrative via causal set theory terms that does not itself hinge  on that Kantian spacetime frame which it seeks to explain.

As  we only begin to try to understand a new model of  ‘reality via this ‘causal set” approach , while it is not yet understandable fully to all of to us   it surely promises a narrowing of the narrative gap between the fundamentally organismic notion of ‘movement ” of molecules, within protein-based microtubules , yielding the movement of those proteins themselves , within the moving cells within organisms , in turn moving around in our purview. This iterative “ordering” of movements appears to be give us  more fundamental narrative of our world’s order than the narrative of arcane edifice of a priori forms, depended on separated fragments of “time” and “space’, glued unconvincingly together, much like Humpty Dumpty with the paste of “continuity” and ‘causality”.

It is truly about time that we managed to extricate ourself from the Jamesian notion of the  continuous ‘stream of consciousness< which flows through time and somehow magically carries our selves with it.  What Borges shows us is that we ourselves might be this stream and not merely flowing in it. that experience of time is merely as an aspect of this experience of flow arises…so that “time ” is not outside us…and we are not positioned within “time”

The sequence and the ordering that are more fundamental than the Kantian constructs or spacetime are the “objective” matrix of neurobiology from which we and our notion of ‘self” ultimately arises, as Borges suggests. But that is another story.

Plato posited that all of our knowledge was somehow not newly acquired but was a a kind of “remembering” of what had been seen and forgotten before our awareness that manifested as ‘knowledge’

Similarly we might consider that something remarkable in that Platonic sense of “remembering” may be going on today as our physicists’ brains delve  further and further into the depths of the universe’s mysteries a , going beyond string theory and black holes and tackling the paradoxes of quantum gravity

Mathematical awareness of itself as growing and expanding, constitutes a kind of  motor force of “self consciousness” by our species, if that word can be forgiven, where mathematics does what it actually is quite distinctly and especially well-known to be able to do: looking at itself “looking at itself” and so on, with ever enriched flowering of mathematical formulations.

  1. That is precisely the dazzling phenomonen we have seen accelerating before our eyes, only beginning to explode a couple of centuries ago, and, today, at ever more rapid pace, providing an incredible array of never expected mathematical insights, with all of these insight themselves being insights into recently novel earlier insights.

Mathematical theories based on a unique “mathematical sense” that was rooted in the very matrix and sinew of the brains of our ancestors and then flourished in our human brains  , but going on unbeknownst to us, have emerged, not motivated by  service of  the quest for that kind of collective “self awareness, but impelled by the necessity of further scientific quests.

Those operations of which we write today as we discuss the new science, and indeed new “metaphysics” that the causal set theory brings with it, \  were  likely always a component of the intrinsic   operation of our brains, for which we had no way of speaking or producing a narrative. They have only become manifest and available to us to focus backwards upon ourselves,as they were needed and “invented” to cope with the challenges science faced in confronting the ‘world” outside.

This kind of “self awareness by us would be expressed by our science and its knowing    It is ingredient in the very nature of mathematics, as has been shown over the years and perhaps nowhere more stunningly than in Godel’s proofs.

So we  may be finding that  our species collectively via its “mathematically driven science”  while searching farther and farther into the outer reaches of the universe,  has been, all along, also digging deeper and deeper into its own beginnings and its own inner processes which were always there, which had always been operative in all organismic forms since the beginnings of our evolution

Perhaps this new science will allow us to appreciate how this extraordinary ‘knowing’  originates with our ancient ancestor organisms,  and then culminates in our species “sciences” , and that may actually finally allow us to speak more sensibly about what this odd ‘knowing” itself might be.  And we will get closer to the riddle of knowing what it is we do when we say we know.

Thus it has been cycling much as T. S Eliot has written in one of our favorite quotes of his:

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

10 comments

  1. “Interestingly we may find in the farthest reaches of the theories of modern physics for the clues as to how we might liberate ourselves from the computational model of the brains functioning and begin to re awaken an awareness of the value of a truly “organismic” model. ” Yes, indeed we may, and it is the causal theory. Please read the papers.

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    1. Dr Pissanetzky….thanks for saying hello….I have begun to look at your papers…getting them downloaded to start has been a project…but I now have one or two them. BUT..here is my point now. What I wrote about in this blog was a very quick and superficial rendering of my underlying “project” a book that is, in one sense, of vast and epic scope (if i do say so myself. ha ha) but, on the other hand, as i have pondered the issue, may be more of a ‘poem” a la the Tractatus…I have spend much effort at coming to terms with Wittgenstein, understanding him properly, and then integrating lessons learned from him into neuroscience. I would love to speak to you….you are clearly so much more sophisticated than I am in terms of the physics…causal sets, etc….however I have 5 decades of research in neuroscience, evolution theory, epistmology that i can bring to bear….the skeletal concepts..the spine around which everything must be built is a mathematical physics appraisal of all we say, all we write, we think that we think and all that we think that we do.

      I have a truly radical and poetic rendering of how “causal sets’ demand to be taken into account..but on a level beyond that of “objective narratives”…that is more philosophical in its beginnings…and in its endpoints very specifically grounded i the manner in which hippocampal/subcortical and other areas in the brain gives us the illusions of space and time….This point of view is integrated via evolutionary theory (also revised to fit better), neuroscience findings (totally rephrased to make sense), mathematical foundations (Poincare, Brouwer, Godel and my patron saint LW) but it must travel through a very perilous “forest” in between…one in which i am somewhat in the dark…lol…but whose outlines I have seen…and for which someone, a Traveler from long, long ago (Borges) came me a treasure map… lol

      Please contact me or give me a means of doing so with you. I realize that you are a senior citizen (80)…and I can say that with a good sense of humor because I am only a few years younger (you are now seeing me in my second life…and my goal is to produce the epic “poem” in the next few years…while all the nootropics and hormones and supplements are still working to keep my brain alive.

      Regards…and thanks for sharing,
      Rachel

      My email is rachelfrancon@gmail.com

      my telephone..(CALL ANYTIME)
      I am in Connecticut
      I have a strange and puzzling life (perhaps we all do.??? ) but mine is just a bit stranger and more puzzling than most….

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  2. PS: we must begin to look at the secret of brain function NOT at the neurons…(although they are ideally configured to allow approximations of output via basic AI computations and “deep processing’ so called. However ultimately I believe your system…as I am beginning to understand it…(I used to be very good at math…in my younger days..ha ha..) should take into account that the ‘neurons” are not the key elements of the brain..and its function….they are more like the legs of a centipede perhaps..but the key function of the brain is far more organismic…via the glial cells..which are truly the “brain with the brain>..and which participate in a dynamic process of ‘organization” via birth and death constantly. This neurogenesis ..is aking to morphogenesis…and my belief is that it is best modeled ..to my limited knowledge by Turing’s differential equation re “reaction diffusion” in his great paper on Morphogenesis. It seems that what you write about can quite nicely be integrated into the Turing math..and into the schema of astrocyte function…manfiested by the superficial neuron connectivities….Of course the nature of the “causal set” is key..as is the idea of ‘Brouwer’s CHOICE SETS” to which ..if I’m not mistaken you partial ordering sets must relate somehow…

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  3. now this is a very, very weird co-incidence Rachael.. I was reading your post to intentional longevity alliance on facebook regarding astrocytes, then followed here. I see a link to another post on causets-brain and here I find you talking with my senior co-author ! Yes, we actually tried to formalize some of the aspects you mention above, stemming from morphogenesis and the glial system. And yes the biggest problem with such pure theories is trying to avoid their self circularity.

    https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jagi.2013.4.issue-3/jagi-2013-0006/jagi-2013-0006.xml?format=INT

    For more on the role of the glial system and development see my site http://www.Lanzalaco.org. I develop slowly with this project as I am still a part time mature student in more traditional medical areas.

    Good to see you keeping on top of your territory Sergio, hope your health is improving and still finding some purpose in scientific work.

    Like

    1. Felix…Hi..there is much to say. First..thanks for contacting me..Sometimes I feel..and I’m mostly correct…that there is little chance of actual contact with thinking life forms outthere in the internet ether..and that I am destined to bring this project of mine to completion alone. And I am fully prepared to do so…lol

      Before I get to some of the fascinating substance of your notes…let me say that I have resolved that “theories’ per se are an inadequate way to convey the essence of scientific work. Does that sound controversial enough. it is mean to sound that way. A “theory” is a pretty outfit that intuitive thought puts on to go out and meet the world…and often in a cocktail party setting. The fabric of thought is not theory and it is not logic and it is not sequential/linear “exposition”. And it is certainly not Popperian balderdash. Wheeeww. That’s a rant…for sure

      The way to present “insight” into the nature of our being is sadly not through the peer review process by means of which a single step or point is meant to be accepted by those who have believed all the wrong things all these years…ha ha. The notion that must be conveyed is a “poetic” one…a way of grasping the world…that can then as a much more cogent vehicle impact on the minds and souls of those in science to “think different” as Steve Jobs said.

      That does not mean that the ‘poem” is an artsy-fartsy emotive song and dance. It has to emerge from hard care facts and scientific investigation and lots and lots of cerebration. But it has to be compressed into an eloquent ‘image” that I call a poem.

      Perhaps the greatest poem of our ages is Darwin’s “Origins”. It is absolutely not a theory. It derives from someone who did not take a step into a lab or conduct a placebo double blind hocus pocus ritual. It is “poetic’ vision..that emerges via his “experience’.

      Another poem that has shaped our civilization is Wittgensteins’ Investigations”…In fact he expressly said that ‘philosophy should best be expressed in a poem”

      Or you might consider Borges lament…why should I write 400 pages of a book about something..when I know that I can write as summary and it will serve just as well or better. lol

      The issue here is to produce a “poem”. And not insofar as the writing genius that was mustered by Borges…but insofar as it is spaceless and timeless…and endless and without beginning either..and reverberates in minds…

      That can be done by confronting epistemology, mathematics, the history of ideas, neuroscience as well as natural science, and addressing the principle object of that confrontation. language..language use…how we speak about nature, how we speak about ourselves…and most importantly “how we speak about how we speak about those other aspects”..

      The project is developing a “way of speaking about the various ways of speaking (theories of all kinds) about ways of speaking”

      We are inside this world and will be forever…unless we grunt and use our hands and feet. But we are nothing more and nothing less than “speaking creatures” and all we can so is speak. That is the true ‘COGITO”. And we have been speaking for centuries..and we only speak about our own speaking..and so on.

      So you might believe that this means that we are hopelessly circular and destined to never get out of our entanglement with our words and our words about the words of our predecessors and others? But that is NOT the case. I assure you. Why?

      Because speaking is not what it seems. Speaking is much more. Speaking in fact is much more than written language. Language is just a set superficial notations for our eyes..as the beads on an abacus might be to counting, or the numerals we use to grasp the nature of the natural numbers.

      Speaking produces the writing eventually but looking at it more closely shows the depths from which we emerge to do that speaking and writing.

      Clue: Here I am totally in sympathy with not only Wittgenstein…but going backwards in time, also Godel, Brouwer, and Poincare. That, you will have to admit is ‘good company”. (If I knew more math, I’d probably have other good company as well.

      What we have in common is that the use of language when those notations are put on paper..emergent from our voices speaking… is not at all a rendering…a depiction of either an “inner entity” or of an “outer world” It is not pictorial It is not geometric. It is not a map. There is “territory”

      language and speaking which it merely notates..just as notation is used in mathematics to mark spots and keep us on track..to channel intuition is not just ‘speaking” put down before our eyes.

      Language (and indeed the logic which is only cosmetic surgery patched around what is said in language to make it seem more important and cogent than it is) is a superficial phenomenon.

      That is rooted in a deeper nature of our species. This is not a picturing .. When viewed as geometric..it is bound to lead to paradox. Escher’s painting of the hands is a great example of a picturing of the picturing that we present to ourselves (or think we do) via language use.

      Oh my…your companionship here has provoked me to make this notion more cogent and more clear…and i will try to do so today in a blog/post.

      Like

      1. very philosophical rant indeed.. unfortunately my philosophy chops aren’t good but I recognise most of those a bit.. Ive actually found group psychology, neuroeconomics, big business and studies of corruption to be of more value than philosophy in understanding current scientific behaviour !

        These days, there is too much hierarchy in any given hard science area to present such poems or stories, do it without serving up lots of chops (papers to grants) and not much happens I notice.. unless the story, greases palms or offers up something of immediate use to others. Every old established science area is a big business now of course.. new material has to serve, follow, produce grants, leverage to bolster the old, good press etc etc. Or just be a good soldier doing their bit in the machine which most do.

        New areas like transhumanism, sure you can provide the poem there as its not a closed done deal yet. For example referring to your other posts on physics and the problems with it. I found some fascinating fluid dynamic work from the CNRS lab in Paris.. no equations, just physical simulations of quantum phenomena at classical scales, based on de broglies old pilot wave concept. I posted pic of their results on here, but its better to check out their videos.

        http://www.lanzalaco.org/2010/12/dipole-neurology-website-may-be-down.html

        This appears to solve the problem like your article on Craig Weinberg asked for, at least promise to. Its great for people actually trying to have physics matters clarified and finished with. I was curious why it was not accepted. So looked on quora for the experts, and the main gripe is, reading between the lines….its interfering with our business ! Quantum unsolvedness, produces endless established niche debates, fuelling tenures, paper vs rebutall and franchising professional invitations. Dont rock the business.. of the small numbers who want to solve this entire problem very few could ever get the resources or platform to do so.

        Like

  4. now this is a very, very weird co-incidence Rachael.. I was reading your post to intentional longevity alliance on facebook regarding astrocytes, then followed here. I see a link to another post on causets-brain and here I find you talking with my senior co-author ! Yes, we actually tried to formalize some of the aspects you mention above, stemming from morphogenesis and the glial system. And yes the biggest problem with such pure theories is trying to avoid their self circularity.

    https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jagi.2013.4.issue-3/jagi-2013-0006/jagi-2013-0006.xml?format=INT

    For more on the role of the glial system and development see my site http://www.Lanzalaco.org. I develop slowly with this project as I am still a part time mature student in more traditional medical areas.

    Good to see you keeping on top of your territory Sergio, hope your health is improving and still finding some purpose in scientific work.

    Like

    1. By the way, I sent a lengthy message to Sergio Pissanetzky….and did read one of his major articles. I am convinced that he is on the right track….and my own thinking…derived from another palette, another domain…is very parallel to his… I hope that he is well… It appears that he did not get my message…there was no response.

      Like

      1. sorry i meant Steven Weinberg above.. there is also a Craig Weinberg quantum philosopher you probably know.

        Sergio is not too well, managing a painful bone condition.. its best to send a small tester email to him, and you might engage him on a good day. Or re-send it a couple of weeks later.

        Like

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