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intelligence of nature
november 7, 2011 / May 25, 2012

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In the beginning, there is quorum sensing emergent from stochastic processes of life, from “communities” of algae to bushy neural woods consolidating electrochemical fields. That’s a vast evo-devo leap, of course, only afforded by conceptual capability vastly beyond mere electrochemical fields. The challenge of understanding mind neuropsychologically is a vastly high, veritably incomprehensible horizon of complex efficacies.

Beyond question, though, is that developmental beginnings are specifiable, and the evolutionary background of mentability is richly understandable, at least to the degree that the issue of The Beginning is now astrobiological. Regulatory genomics is a technical forest of problems, not wholly a mystery any longer—except that the foundations of prevailing theories (integrative explanatory narratives) are always up for question by unanticipated emergents of inquiry, and the forest is very thick and dark (e.g., “junk” DNA ain’t reproduced for nothing).

We are a form of life that can create notions like autopoiesis and symbiogenesis retrospectively tracking emergent teleology in nature: telic efficacy in reliably-reproduced adaptive functions that favor more intelligent fitness over less intelligent fitness (I will argue in detail). Thus, there has been durable progressivity in nature toward the form of life that can articulate progressivity, relative to clarifiable senses of intelligence (at least as flexibility of functioning) that allow making specific sense of what natural progressivity is.

To my mind, the Gaic intelligence of Earth has led to the form of life that grows to conceive this just as our presence gains planetary singularity of such a technological nature that planetary management becomes necessary by the form of life gifted with realizing this possibility of doing so, as we “simultaneously” (epochally understood) receive the responsibility (and burden) of this mirrored in global warming and biospheric calamities. Planetary possibility has evolved simultaneously as planetary responsibility, just as a person’s development of autonomy faces correlate responsbility for intentional consequences.

However, back to the beginning: Capturing bushy neural woods has a long way to go, as neuroscience is still in its infancy, not yet having captured the “wiring diagram” of the 302-neuron nematode worm. But look: There is cellular “communication” as signal transduction in chemical exchanges. The olfactory sense of a worm (literally: chemical “perception”) is far beyond simple-cellular signaling, but wormsense is a direct legacy of chemical signaling. Our sense of smell is incomparable to wormsense. But our chemical perceptibility may be quite outshown by a dog, probably also by monkeys. Yet, no other mammal has potential for a culinary sense of taste, due to the manifold of sensibility weaving into specific tastes.

An evolutionary continuum of intelligence can be detailed for chemical perception, which is the first form of intelligence, and which remains with us kindredly with worms, however distantly. Also, worms move, of course, which provides an episodic sense of living space (not yet spatial representation except as kinesthetic feeling, i.e., relativization of spatiality to body schema). Kinesthetic intelligence can be reconstructed as a progressive continuum: Insects “read” space. Blind fish and moles read space. A congenitally blind person represents space through a developed logic of kinesthetic relations. Gaining eyesight after years of blindness doesn’t at first allow a visual apparition to be identified until it’s touched. Congenitally blind persons learn visual presence through inference from kinesthetic reasoning.

There is a continuum for all modes of intelligence that constitute enactivity, bonding us to earlier forms of life.

Intelligence as we know it can be, by our capabilities, analyzed into discrete components which can be identified as functionally progressive across species. Intelligence in nature, as a metric of progressivity, is quite specifiable along an adaptive continuum (degrees of complex functionality) that provides a basis for claiming that one form of life is more evolved than another, relative to a given functional efficacy. Relativism ends at a Point (eonically distal, proximally living) of effective intelligence, including an inherent superiority of intentionality over emergent behavior lacking any intentional implicature, relative to functional complexity of emergent intentionality. Competing senses of functional complexity (or potential or promise) are, in principle, decidable; i.e., one is contextually preferrable to another; one more tenable or durable than the other; one showing all in all better fitness than the other.

The mystery of how intentionality emerges from “instinct” may dissolve as we better understand how a continuum exists between hardwired intentionality (or emergently fixed intentionality, which insects have) and highly flexible intentionality (at best: autotelic mind).



Next: section 3 of “biomindality.”

 

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