January 2019


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Mark Stahlman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
tree of knowledge system discussion <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jan 2019 11:30:13 -0700
text/plain (3034 bytes) , Chaisson The (2 MB)

Hey -- it's your place, so I'm happy to comply with whatever "tone"  
you'd like around here (w/ Emotional Warfare and all that jazz) . . .  

I'm reading Chaisson and, sorry, I don't see anything that details the  
*meaning* of any of these terms in it.  What is "energy" (across all  
these domains)?  What does erg/second/gram mean in  
psychological/cultural terms (i.e. why does he have to "normalize"  
it)?  And why doesn't he use the term "information"?  What am I  
missing (and what the hell is an astrophysicist doing talking about  
"Big History" anyway) . . . ??

I first started working in detail on "energy rate/flux density" in the  
mid-70s, after some careful analysis of attempts to apply the 2nd Law  
to life in the early-70s (or maybe late-60s, since it was a focus of  
my undergraduate work in biology.) My conclusion back then was that it  
simply didn't work.  Mathematics without meaning.  Physics over-reach  
(astrologically speaking.)

I will try to find the basis of his Figure 5 "Rising complexity,  
empirically based" and ascertain if anyone else thinks this makes  
sense.  Note that there is only one curve.  This "metric" simply  
cannot account for "dimensions" even if if does work for "complexity"  
(which I'm pretty sure it doesn't.)  That's why others seem to rely on  
"degrees of freedom" (which, of course, arrives with its own set of  

Thanks for my homework assignment,


P.S. Perhaps the psychological "urge" to try to be the one who unifies  
everything *and* then makes it "evolve" is more important than the  
actual empirics of the situation?  Since the 1970s I've been involved  
with dozens of people who've tried to do this and, as best I can tell,  
they all failed.  Why would anyone want to do that?  What causes us to  
pursue this path and what does Plato have to do with it  
(philosophically speaking)?

P.P.S. I did find Chaisson's 2006 "Epic of Evolution" on MotW.   
Unfortunately his 2004 "Energetics Agenda" article in "Complexity"  
isn't online but I did find his 2014 "The Natural Science Underlying  
Big History" (in which Fig. 5 becomes Fig.2, attached.)  Btw, there  
are no footnotes in this part of the article, implying that he's  
pretty much on his own.

Quoting "Henriques, Gregg - henriqgx" <[log in to unmask]>:

> Hi Mark,
>  My intent was just to set a healthy boundary so that the tone of  
> our list is clear.
>  I think a book comparing Deacon's approach to the ToK would be great.
>   Another key concept in my system is behavior. I am working on  
> mapping that, as I think it is central. Attached is an emerging  
> draft powerpoint on it. Behavior connects to both energy and  
> information. For a good, highly quantitative conception of energy  
> and complexity that overlaps with the ToK map, see the attached  
> paper from Chaisson.
> Best,
> G


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