Recently I had a brief conversation with an office mate about some discussion on this blog regarding the noetic and the real. Transcendental and irrational numbers, such as Pi and ideas of continuity, are argued to have a different connection with the real than flying pink unicorns. My interlocutor (and, I should add, good friend) suggested that Wigner, in a rather well known essay, put his finger on one criteria we use sift the noetic universe for those objects there that have more or less connection to reality. That is to say, because of the unreasonable success of mathematics this gives rise to the (not unreasonable intuition) that mathematical ideas are more real or alternatively the more mathematically connected an idea is that it therefore has a larger “real” connection.

Long ago, I had some conversations on free will (see this and this here and finally this). One of the issues regarding will, creativity, and genius is that the human if it is to be regarded as only a meat machine somehow constructs a semiotic (or semantic) scaffold and develops real noetic content in its internal states and thereby in its actions. A clock or even a computer does not in its internal machinations and actions manage to do this. A clock’s and a computer’s meanings are only derived through the agency of a being which has constructed this scaffold, that is the internal states of a clock do not render time unless it is viewed by a creature (like us) who has constructed the semiotic scaffold and does and can attach meaning to physical states.

In the above linked essays, which were admittedly in the form of explorations and not complete or even coherent ideas, the notion that one view of the human creative engine might be viewed as a aesthetic expert system linked/driven to/by a symbolic noise generator for a description of how it works. This engine itself is recursively driven, that is the problems it works on are posed by itself and indeed the programming and improvement of that same expert system is driven by its past results and working.

I’m going to modify that picture slightly and add an additional ansatz and see how that works. The symbolic noise might be viewed as a glimpse into the wilder universe, the one much less reasonable than the ordered one we inhabit, namely the noetic world. This leads me to the ansatz … that the noetic universe is real, just as real as the concrete material world a separate space with its own logic, laws, and evolution. Ideas, a thoughts, a symbols all can be just viewed as individual points (or events?) existing and defining a noetic universe. It is real, but it is a separate space. What we regard as “real” vs “imaginary” or more real vs more imaginary are just metrics for measuring movement or location in the noetic universe. In this view, the wild soup of noetic noise which drives our creative process is a window looking out at the welter and waste of the roiling noetic landscape.

In the material universe, life is a funny anti-entropic cluster of stuff. What would the analogue to life be in the noetic universe? Dawkins meme might be a microorganism in this realm. But microorganisms are not the only living things in our material world. More complex and more evolved, some (like us) are even intelligent. If a Dawkin’s meme is a micro-organism in the noetic universe, what then would one call a thinking self-aware creature in that space? A demon or angel perhaps? And why would we expect that the windows to the other universe is one way?

I should add as a final note, a hat tip to Larry at Rust Belt Philosophy for helping trigger me to try to crystallize into essay form some half-formed ideas that have been batting around my noggin recently … which gave rise to the above essay.

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