Monday, July 23, 2012

The Octaves of Intelligence, part I

There's a good deal of speculation in today's philosophy, and biology, about how thinking works, what consciousness consists of, and man's place in the spectrum of awareness. According to Edward O. Wilson, for example, bees can be said to think. Dogs can also think. But they don't think like we do.

How does their thinking differ from that of man, and why?

The answers to this may not be so readily apparent, but the enneagram provides a ready structural approach to the question, as I will demonstrate.

First of all,  we need to understand that consciousness is an inherent property of the universe, not a unique aberration. 

Modern scientists describe “information” as the most essential (and basically indestructible) property of energy and matter, but fail to understand that information is, in itself, a form of intelligence that manifests according to scale, in a fractal manner, in compliance with the laws of emergence.

Contrary to the overall laws of entropy, information in the universe organizes itself in lawfully predictable hierarchies. 

What this means, in plain English, is that everything is alive—as Gurdjieff said to Ouspensky.
Furthermore, everything is intelligent, that is, it contains information in structures displaying relative degrees of order. 

Said intelligence displays increasingly sophisticated interactive abilities, up to and including self-awareness, according to the level of its "note," as defined within the development of a particular octave.  We might say that intelligence is determined by the ability of matter to interact. This is what Gurdjieff was alluding to when he told Ouspensky that a baked potato is more intelligent than a raw potato. In cooking, the carbohydrate molecules in the potato have developed enhanced abilities to interact with the digestive system in a man.

Second, it's important to understand that thinking and consciousness, in the context of the planet earth, form a completed octave. Different levels of biological consciousness are manifested as notes on this octave. We might refer to this as "The Octave of Biological Intelligence."

 In order to understand this, we first need to examine the question of atomic and molecular intelligence, which establish the foundational nature of intelligence and consciousness as they manifest in the universe.

 The Octave of Molecular Intelligence is constructed in the following manner. (Click on the link to see a diagram.)

Do = emergent energy (dark matter/dark energy)

Re =  subatomic particles 

Mi =  electrons, protons and neutrons

---first conscious shock--

Fa =  atoms 

Sol =   simple molecules (static crystalline structures, eg. quartz)

La =   volatile crystalline structures/organic compounds

Si =  self replicating crystalline structures

--second conscious shock--

Do =  Biological level of consciousness.

 With each step along the diagram, an increasing level of organization and complexity emerges, with properties that cannot be predicted strictly by looking at the elements that produce them. There are, furthermore, two levels at which quantum leaps take place between the nature of the constituent components and their resultant material entities. Atoms, the "Lego blocks" of the standard model in physics, represent an entire level of order higher than their subatomic constituents. And self-replicating crystalline structures forming entities such as RNA and DNA, that is, biological molecules, represent a quantum leap from "standard," that is, static, self replicating crystalline structures.

  The critical point is that what enters between "Si" and "Do" in this first octave allows for the development of what is called agency—the ability of a molecular structure to undertake action on its own behalf. This is the difference between static self replicating crystalline structures, which can assemble themselves only under specific conditions over which they have no control, and molecular structures such as viral RNA, which can actively seek out the conditions under which replication is favorable. Agency represents the dividing line between the octave of molecular intelligence and the next-higher octave of biological intelligence.

 In the next post, we'll examine the octave of biological intelligence and its implications in the understanding of what mind is.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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