Improbable Insights

A question which strikes me is: if all of material reality (physics), biology and (for that matter, also) psycholinguistics is at base the recursive representation and autonomous self-perpetuation of the patterned, emergently complex information structure and logic of dynamical systems – why is it that there exist such monumental hurdles and difficulties in articulating this complexity, in encoding and communicating it ? A Cosmos in which the logic of emergence and creatively useful algorithmic information compression is ubiquitous and in some sense all-encompassing would surely also be one in which this logic of self-replication is best-served and maintains sustainable continuity through ease of information formulation (encoding) and transmission (communication).

But there are problems and seemingly intractable difficulties which arise when articulating and efficiently transmitting the structured or encoded information and message, again – these are the kinds of problems that material reality “solves” all over the place but when percolating through human beings, bottlenecks and chokepoints are endemic. Each one of us of necessity develops private languages and cognitive or linguistic compression methods with unique vocabularies and contexts which, other than isolating ourselves in ways similar to the siloed mutual-estrangements of academic specialisation, create difficulties of interpersonal or intertribal communication. Small surprise that popular communications and consensus reality is of generally lowest-common-denominator complexity – it may be that the generally and self-evidently trivial froth and bubble of cultural communications artefacts is the one true survivor and heir of human language, thought and technlogy – i.e. that which is most successfully (self-)replicated.

It may be, deep down in the conceptual coal mine (as we currently are), that the benefit that human beings derive through the successful structural replication (via information encoding and transmission) as logical, linguistic or symbolic information systems is primarily in some sense through the participation in those systems. We may be hard-wired for participation in the ongoing process of global information and communications systems self-replication; further, this may privilege function over semantics. The function being the participation in the process, the semantics being the meaning and revealed or discovered truths or facts of reality. The Universe may be structured in ways which privilege self-replicating logical, informational and material systems but the phylogenetic burden of an extended evolutionary process in biology and culture has created a human mind and society which is unwittingly and neurolinguistically oriented and probabilistically biased towards gossip over literary or scientific insight.

We have difficulty explaining the world because our own biological emergence in it privileges functional participation over structured intellectual insight, as information encoding or as subsequent communication of that structured data. Science and philosophy are also cognitive methods of informational self-replication but they remain improbable linguistic entities in comparison to the latest football scores or other common ideological caricatures of everyday thought, language and communication.

What we require most critically is insight and effective methods for sharing this valuable information to other minds. Again, it seems that our biological inheritance and all-too-human shared cognitive methods in language and the cognitive extension of technology may be actively (and counter-intuitively) working against our own (collective) best interests.

One thought on “Improbable Insights

  1. Looking at ideas as memes, it makes sense (to me) to study them at both the micro and the macro levels. At the micro level, everybody wants to trade information, even if that information is useless; for example, many guys engage in football banter in order to be perceived as “one of the guys” or talk to girls about how they were quarterbacks in high school (or girls telling guys how they were cheerleaders) in order to spend time together or obtain sexual favors, even though that information is not exactly useful or functional. Everyone wants or needs something to trade in order to justify his paltry existence, even if he or she is only a couch potato. At the macro level, some information is more useful than other information, because it confers functional, financial, social, tactical, strategic, biological, or evolutionary advantages. Those advantages decide which memes (and which meme carriers) survive, thrive, scrape by, or die. Those who understand this are always on the lookout for the next viral meme. So I would say both your intuition and your counter-intuition are true, one at a macro level and the other at a micro level.

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