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Incorporating Meaning into Fundamental Physics

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Webcast lecture given at the Frontiers of Fundamental Physics 15 Conference: video now available at link below.

ABSTRACT

Current science has no place for meaning at a fundamental level. In this lecture an alternative approach is developed, involving a consistent synthesis of a number of those advanced by various authors in the past where meaning plays a significant role, including biosemiotics (Peirce’s theory of signs applied to biology), along with Hoffmeyer’s derivative concept semiotic scaffolding; Barad’s agential realism, where reality is constructed by cooperating ‘agencies’; and Yardley’s Circular Theory, involving a dynamic, infinitely deep hierarchical ­structure of interrelating systems and processes. Hankey’s ‘locus of control’ supports a mathematical formulation of these ideas, but the resulting picture would involve a vast irregular collection of interlocking abstractions, rather than the tidy unity sought in regular physics.

The existence of systems such as human language and critical fluctuations supports the idea that the organisation implicit in Yardley’s picture arises naturally, opening up the possibility of a new approach to understanding the natural world that overcomes Smolin’s ‘trouble with physics’ and can provide a new perspective on issues such as the role of the observer, the origin of life, and the process of evolution.

This talk is part of the Mind-matter Unification Project (TCM Group, Cavendish Laboratory) series.

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