An Autonomous Agent

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Category: philosophy (Page 1 of 4)

Order Out of Chaos – Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers

A little bit of quantum physics, chemistry, biology and philosophy all rolled up into one important book. Order Out of Chaos (La Nouvelle Alliance as originally published in French) by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers is a paradigm changing book. The first parts of the book are an excellent overview on the historical development of science – the evolution of dynamics and the discovery of thermodynamics and their relationship is particularly fascinating.

Once the reader gets to the later parts, it becomes somewhat abstract and the reader may not be able to get through it without a background in chemistry and physics. Chapter Nine, when the phrase “Order Out of Chaos” is developed, is difficult. Despite this, it is much more accessible than a scientific paper on the subject. It may take two or three reads to fully absorb the ideas presented. Overall it is one of my favorite reads.

Some important conclusions from the book:

  • The arrow of time objectively exists and it arises from non-equilibrium and irreversibility at the microscopic level.
  • The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be understood as a selection principal. It operates as a negative on allowable initial conditions, in other words it restricts systems with certain initial conditions from existing.
  • Time travel to the past is not allowed by thermodynamics because time reversal requires infinite information concerning the initial conditions of the system, an impossibility to an observer in the universe. This implies that information is closely connected to irreversibility and time.
  • Thermodynamics can be expressed from dynamics through the idea of correlations and internal-time operators. Thus, dynamics has been extended once again (general relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory).
  • The universe as a whole is in a non-equilibrium state and it is an irreversible process with pockets of reversible dynamics.
  • In general, one of the goals of the authors is to make dynamics and thermodynamics consistent with each other.

Philosophical Overdose YouTube Channel

Philosophical Overdose is an excellent source of material for watching/listening!

Description from channel:

Collection of Academic Philosophy Videos (both Analytic Philosophy & Continental Philosophy): Logic, Epistemology, History of Ideas, Consciousness, Skepticism, Science, Ontology, Political Theory, Ethics, Religion, etc.

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds (2012)

Compilation of various ideas on mysticism and science.

The Adventure of Self-Discovery – Stanislav Grof

The Adventure of Self-Discovery by Stanislav Grof is a fascinating book which introduces readers to the inner healing potential of their sub-conscious. The first half of the book builds on themes from Realms of the Human Unconscious. In the second half of the book, Grof explains the rather profound, yet simple, exercise of holotropic breathing. Holotropic breathing allows people access to the ancient tradition of entering non-ordinary states of consciousness without any recourse to the ingestion or smoking of plant material. Please read the entire book if you are interested in performing the breathing without the aid of an experienced holotropic guide. Do not attempt without a sitter.

I put together a music playlist based on Grof’s recommendations for your benefit. The songs are in random order. Let me know if I should add/remove any:

Holotropic Breathing – Beginning

Holotropic Breathing – Middle

Holotropic Breathing – End

Also, informative interview with Grof:

Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research – Dr. Stanislav Grof

Dr. Stanislav Grof’s book Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research surpassed any expectations I had when I purchased it. It truly takes the reader on a trip into the most remote depths of the human psyche. Grof’s model of the unconscious, based on more than 30 years of experience, provides incredible insight into a realm beyond anything you thought you knew. The model involves what Grof calls “Systems of Condensed Experience” (COEX Systems). In addition to these experiences,  patients typically encounter experiences classified by Grof as either perinatal or transpersonal. I suggest reading the book to learn more about this topic and the models.

In a suitable analogy, Grof declares LSD to be psychiatry’s fundamental tool; it is like the astronomer’s telescope or the biologist’s microscope.  Grof refers to the powerful ability of LSD to facilitate the revealing of deep unconscious systems like that of sonar or radar, revealing the largest and most relevant emotional disturbances beneath the surface of the unconscious ocean. It allows therapists to have a direct reading of a patient’s relevant thought systems and important experiences. Readers begin to realize how incredibly important this molecule is for the well-being of the psyche and the spiritual and mental development of humanity.

For a simple introduction, I would suggest The Holotropic Mind rather than this book. Or if you prefer an audio book, Audible has The Transpersonal Vision. I would also recommend joining the email list for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

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