The Intrinsic Probabilistic Character of Contemporary Knowledge

This entry was posted by on Monday, 22 February, 2010 at

Non-Classical Meanings of Probability

One of the main characteristics  of contemporary development of physics is the re-integration of organization in its conceptual – methodological apparatus, aspect considered by Norbert WIENER – in his well known study dedicated to dynamic systems in physics and biology – as having  first rate importance for the future of physics. It is well known that Renaissance physics was obliged to exclude the organizational issue because it involved an excessive complexity for mathematical ( mechanist ) models of its era. Between a non-mathematizable complexity and a simplicity susceptible to mathematization, with immediate theoretical and practical results, has been – realistically – preferred the second variant, option loaded with ample methodological consequences, which have particularized the Cartesian science as a simplist, abstract science, centered on “ thing ” ( and not on living being), on distinct separable objects, subordinating the synthesis (of a summative essence anyway ) to analysis and respectively the qualitative to quantitative.

In the last decades, under the influence of some intrinsic factors (nonlinear physics, relativity theory, complementarity principle, physical synergetics ) or external (cybernetics, respectively functional approach, organizational chemistry, etc.), the object of general physics is progressively characterized as an organized complexity.  For the manner in which actual theory of relativity– centered on physical ( but still realist-local ! ) continuum – pledges for an organizational physics, it is very indicative the two step opinion of a remarkable physicist from the first half of the XX century – A.S. EDDINGTON:

  1. “ We often consider that an accomplished study for “one” allows us to know all about “ two ” because “ one ” AND  “ one ” makes “ two ”. This way we forget that we have to study “ and ”; the second physical horizon is just the study of this “ and ” namely of organization.”
  2. “ The environment should never be overlooked. In theory of relativity , we do not recognize the concept of an atom as a completely separated system. We can no longer contemplate an atom without a physical universe…just as we can not contemplate a mountain without a sustaining planet.”

    To understand that necessity is intrinsic probabilistic has been needed that contemporary science to assimilate nonlinearity, respectively that physics to become organizational, involving what I have designated as “ the activation of possible ” – defining aspect of contemporary knowledge, to which the following paragraph will be dedicated.

The activation of possible:  from Prigogine to…Chuang-Tze

In far from equilibrium states and especially in nonlinear conditions, the systems display a totally different behavior from their typical equilibrial or close to equilibrium states. Through nonlinearity / ergonic activation the system accedes to a different space ( set ) of possibilities, abruptly rising the number of accessible states and correlatively its choosing ability (organizational instability). Also, the potential barrier between the real / actualized and potential – possible states significantly decreases, the system becoming very sensitive to small variations of intrasystemic and environmental parameters. In the special area of the bifurcation point, the qualitative rapport between necessity and randomness changes in favor of stochasticity: this time the selection (actualization) of a state from the potential – possible states repertoire of the system ( repertoire delimited by the kinetic equations ) is decisively controlled by the stochastic factors – fluctuations of intrinsic or extrinsic parameters.  In these conditions, when real proposes and  possible disposes, within the phase  space of the system there are surprising processes such as trajectories decompartment – a form of non-classical instability having an exceptional scientific and philosophical significance through implications on modernization of some categories, principles, laws.

For instance, by uncovering of strange attractors within the phase space of some systems ( including macroscopic ones ) , from molecules to living cells and from human couple to nuclear reactors ( all considered in nonlinear conditions ) we are compelled to replace the classical attributive properties with probabilities (functions).  Methodological and conceptual reasons of such reconsideration can be found in dissipative structures theory as well as in the works dedicated to dynamics resurrection (as stochastic dynamics) and ergodic theory (see I. Prigogine, I. Sinai, A. J. Lichtenberg, M.A. Lieberman, and others.)

The activation of possible should not be in the least limited to physical / chemical systems, it equally bestowing the activation of some potential (forgotten) states / processes of the biological systems (especially – the human being), these being approachable through accurate scientific techniques.

This time the right brain hemisphere is preferentially involved in reaching of some psycho-physiological states of superior conscience, states / processes of great integrative – adaptive relevance, designated by alternative terms such as: “ cosmic conscience ” ( Dr. M. Bucke), “ spiritual resonance ”, etc. This activation of the “psi” – possible is favored by meditation, through which the stochastic action of the daily stress is limited, respectively the “ mental block ” (exerted by the left hemisphere) and usually manifested through rejecting / diminishing reactions of the spiritual states. This state of spiritual activation comes very close to Wu (Emptiness) requirement of Tao’s teaching, Chuang-Tze, one of the Taoism founders (contemporary with Lao-Tze, the famous author of “Tao Te Ching” manual, about 2,500 years old) demanding  the sage interested by spiritual integrity and expansion to be  as much as possible detached from the surrounding world, equally “corrupt and chaotic.”


As previously shown, in the new non-Cartesian (nonlinear, organizational, spiritual) context we perceive a genuine  change of perspective:  the necessity becomes inherent ( as a particular case ) to randomness, concomitantly reality  becomes  inherent ( again as a particular case ) to possibility and stability becomes inherent to instability; all these rapports allow just as many quantitative measures respectively meanings / senses of probability. The integrative, organizational significance of probability will naturally result as an integral of these particular senses above mentioned:

Probability, in its integrative  meaning, measures the generalized non-univocity of the actualization (selection) process, respectively the degree of participation of necessity to randomness, of real to potential, of stable to instable.

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