Intelligence in nature

-The Fifth Way argues that direction is intelligence-dependent, and that nature has direction but no intelligence.

Re-write: given direction and final causality, either panpsychism or theism. STA apparently takes panpsychism as absurd, and the prima facie case for this is very good.

Leibniz: Consciousness is any incorporation and representation of multiplicity in unity. “Representation” seems circular, but the basic idea is clear. Whatever has a universe, an umwelt, a domain of survey, action, and direction is perceptive over it.

Ruyer: Our own consciousness is just the peculiar consciousness of beings with nervous systems that incorporate information about what is other than self/body. The digestive tract has a consciousness that is self-absorbed and looks after the unity of its manifold operations while the brain, in order to perform an identical act of self-absorption, must incorporate information from outside the organ. The domain from esophagus to the end of the colon is what the consciousness of the digestive tract calls the universe. And it is right. It grows its own food, conserves all its energy, and can date the moment of its big bang. We judge this claim only because we have a perspective that allows us to be extrinsic to this universe.

-Aristotle: The best metaphor for nature is a doctor healing himself. The metaphor is identical to – though not as good as – the barber who shaves himself or the chef who cooks his own meals. Acorns are oak-makers provided with all that they need to make themselves. We see the oak’s dependence on another only because our mode of consciousness is capable of taking an extrinsic view of acorn-universes.

But then how is it that we even conceive the possibility that our universe might be caused, much less prove that it is? All intelligence can do this in light of its seeing being and the transcendentals. No intelligence has a universe and can never be at home within one. Even to know that there is something outside your universe requires an alienation from any given universe. Nothing contextualized can be a universe, and a vision of being contextualizes all possible universes.

-The chef cooking for himself clearly has a purpose, but this is a pure extension of the action of his digestive tract, genes, nervous system, etc. In the face of this, we must either (a) deny cooking has a purpose or (b) affirm that the digestive tract has one. But there is no sharp break between the purpose of the digestive tract, the cells composing it, the fundamental particles composing them, etc. My typing this fulfills some intention of the periodic table, if only we could get a clear enough view of it.

-Nature is an intelligence in the natural. But it seems that the Fifth Way demands that there be no intelligence in teh natural, just as arrows can’t direct themselves to targets.

-STA himself defines nature as an aspect of the divine art given thing things, not “a way in which things react to or respond to the divine art. But how do we tell a natural endowment from an intrinsic property? Doesn’t the distinction collapse in the domain of the Fifth Way?

-The Fifth Way cannot mean that nature is intrinsically lacking purpose and so needs an additional level of explanation to account for its being purposive.

 But this does happen in a very crucial sense – the only way we can see meaning in bad luck, accidental meetings, the flow of history, and even our mistakes is if God directs them in a way that is impossible for us to understand.

But we can’t say that nature lacks a purpose and so requires God to infuse it with one except in the sense that all things are infused into nature by creation. This isn’t a vacuous addition: it’s proof that creation is an at of intelligence.

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1 Comment

  1. B M Moritz said,

    July 2, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Could we say that Thomas Nagel implies panpsychism in his latest book?


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