The Once and Future Wallace


A Theory of Spatial Systems: Introduction.

     The work described in this section has represented a great personal adventure for me over the years. It is what it is: the outcome of nearly thirty years of tinkering with a theory of natural organization based on the ideas of Benedict de Spinoza, the celebrated Rationalist philosopher. As a result of my peculiar circumstances and various intellectual limitations, I admit to not having so far proved outright that the model holds water; still, on the scale of all endeavors its various predictions are really not so difficult to examine and test, and at this point I can in fact cite results from a number of investigations I have undertaken that seem to argue for its further study. So, ready or not, it is time to report on what I have discovered, and perhaps let those in more favorable circumstances act upon the evidence as they might care to.

     Most basically, the theory begins with Spinoza's ideas on his two main "attributes" of existence, thought and spatial extension. In the next two essays I take some time to translate these Rationalist era concepts into a modern day systems framework. As it so develops, the critical connection to modern, testable circumstances is the notion that the three dimensional (extended) space reality we inhabit might represent a common kind of solution to the way the subsystems of any given natural system share and degrade energy. Specifically, it is posed that all natural systems are comprised of four subsystems whose interaction with one another maintains intra-system integrity on the basis of a single principle, the expression of which in entropic terms is three-dimensional, "extended," space. Spatial extension is thus portrayed as a kind of "unified solution" to an ever-complexifying subsystemization of energy flow.

     At this point this sounds like a bunch of words just thrown together for effect, but the discussion to follow will break the ideas down into more digestible pieces, and show how easily they can be tested, once one knows what to look for.

     The reader might remark at this point, "Okay, but what does any of this have to do with Alfred Russel Wallace?" Well, I'm glad you asked. If you have absorbed anything from my analyses of Wallace over the years, it should be my conclusion that his model of biological evolution was based on a philosophy of final causes. Wallace's cosmological leanings always were to one degree or another teleological, and he was a strong believer in the existence of ever more "recondite" forces that shaped change. The theory of my own I describe here is in fact also one that invokes final causes, since it argues that only those systems that are internally organized into the pattern of information flow and sharing I suggest can exist. This is not to say the number of possible patterns is absolutely and deterministically limited as the system evolves, just that the constraints involved in the concept "outcome" are much greater than in most modern cosmological models (including the Darwinian model of biological change, which approaches an understanding of species development bordering on a random walk philosophy). Here, the array of possible physical-space outcomes is still infinite--just a much smaller infinite number than before.

     Beyond this, the model I am introducing has what will be viewed as the altogether surprising property of being able to deal with (posed) non-spatially extended realities. I will speak of this no further in this particular series of presentations, however, for two reasons. First, for the time being it represents an unnecessary complication to the basic problem. Second, the empiricism needed to deal with the complication is likely to be an order of magnitude more difficult, as the focus no longer will merely be on measuring and identifying particular characteristics of extended space, but on distinguishing between these and our image/integration of same into the conscious stream. 'Better to start with the more easily demonstrable, I think it will be agreed.


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