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The Belief Doctor (Steaphen Pirie)   Infoworks (Steven Lesser)

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Please be aware that the opinions, beliefs and materials of contributing authors need not reflect the beliefs or opinions of other contributing authors. As a general rule articles are posted on this website which infer or in some way point towards, or add weight to an "integral systems" or 'holodynamic systems" world-view.

Downward causation

This section 'Downward Causation' analyses the role of upwards and downwards causation - that of the role and influence of individuality (upwards causation) within a group, and 'downwards causation' - the role and influence of the group (peer-group pressure) upon individuality, and choice.

Free will and fate is analysed from a holistic, systems perspective.

[Excerpt  Be and Become, © ProCreative, Sydney 2000]

As mentioned earlier, for reality to be so stable and ordered requires everything in it to cycle into physicality, coherently. But what determines when and how everything and everyone so effectively and consistently harmonises? How can the ordered, organized universe be explained?

What is the mechanism that drives the extraordinary display of order that we see around us? If the universe started with the big bang as most scientists believe, then how do they explain the immense order that now exists within the universe. As physicist Paul Davies rightly observed

The universe began in featureless simplicity, and grows ever more elaborate with time.1

As suggested previously, Consciousness, or some higher-order, non-physical process must be the source of all matter and energy. Once again, the solution to Zeno’s Paradoxes requires us to acknowledge that reality must be continuously cycling into physicality at a very high rate.

Consequently we can reasonably conclude concede that:

... whatever the process which urges physical matter to actualise, it must be non-physical (and nonlocal). No physical (local) process can account for the origin (Cause) of physical reality. The Cause for the physical universe and everything within it must be a higher-order, non-physical “process” which we can arguably assign as being of a spiritual or mental nature.

The source or Cause for our physical reality (including everything and everyone within it) cannot be within the physical system. We could say that consciousness “solidifies” into physical reality as matter and energy. Consciousness (or some very similar higher-order process) precedes matter, and indeed is the cause of matter. We can understand then that the chain of structure of existence follows the track of Consciousness (or some higher-order process) => Energy => Matter.

Scientists readily understand that matter is simply congealed energy. Perhaps we can hope that the majority of scientists will one day in the foreseeable future follow the lead of the few such as Freeman Dysan, who have, it would seem, come to the realization that energy (in all its forms including heat and light) is congealed consciousness. Once again, I am careful here with the use of the word “consciousness” for it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that atoms “think” much like we do. It is helpful to assign an elemental Unknowable form of consciousness to matter. But here again, if we apply the holographic model we must conclude that all matter and energy has some elemental form of “emotional choice.” The “toality” of the Known and the Unknowable includes the duality of Intellect (Known) and Emotion (Unknowable), which together could be considered “emotional choice.” It is meaningless to say we can have choice and intellect without emotion. Once again, this would be analogous to a circle not having a diameter, or a future without any past.

With regards to the idea that matter and energy forms from invisible unseeable consciousness, it is helpful to note that some scientists readily accept that

evidently, physical processes exist that can turn a void—or something close to it—into stars, planets, crystals, clouds and people.2

As physicist Paul Davies noted:

The universe is progressing—through the steady growth of structure, organization and complexity—to ever more developed and elaborate states of matter and energy.3

and that

Research in areas as diverse as fluid turbulence, crystal growth and neural networks is revealing the extraordinary propensity for physical systems to generate new states of order spontaneously. It is clear that there exist self-organizing processes in every branch of science.4

Self-organizing systems clearly require a mechanism to enable self-organization, for otherwise things would remain chaotic and dis-ordered. As mentioned in the previous chapter, atoms and molecules and “inanimate” things in general must somehow “know” when to actualise in order to create or be a part of an ordered reality. This is all the more extraordinary when we remember that total unpredictability rules at the root level of existence. In other words, there really is no bottom to the proverbial abyss.

[[edited excerpt ]]

Quantum physics has shown us that it is impossible to derive the laws of quantum physics
without reference to consciousness. Jane Roberts in her Seth series of books explained the
foregoing subject of how consciousness within matter cooperates as follows:

Molecules and atoms and even smaller particles have a condensed consciousness. They form into cells and form an individual cellular consciousness. This combination results in a consciousness that is capable of much more experience and fulfillment than would be possible for the isolated atom or molecule alone. This goes on ad infinitum......to form the physical body mechanism. Even the lowest particle retains its individuality, and its abilities [through this cooperation] are multiplied a millionfold.”5

This individual-mass consciousness interconnection occurs across and within all gestalts. Depending on the level of congregate matter (or energy) there are mutually agreed upon frameworks in which matter and energy operate. The simpler the congregate, the simpler the laws by which they are bounded. For example, an electron has, relatively speaking, a simpler description of its probable movement in space-time than a complex organic molecule. There are self-abiding systems of behavior for all forms of matter and energy. That is why our world and indeed the entire universe can seem so predictable—because it chooses to be within the freedoms given to it by “higher order” systems.

Clearly, the range of choice of an electron, while still being infinite, is different to our range of choices. Electrons for example make choices within the context of their existence within “electronhood.” As we progress up the ladder of order or consciousness, we find increasing diversity of choice. Or more correctly, we find increasing ability to affect the environment in which that consciousness exists. In fundamental terms:

There is increasing responsibility with increasing awareness.

A dog for example has more control over its environment then say a plant or tree. A dog may dig up a plant and destroy it. A plant or tree will control raw materials (composed of atoms and electrons) for its own ends. A man may control both plants and dogs for his/her own ends, but even man is limited in his physical abilities. Everything that exists has infinite choice, but those choices are bounded by the parameters of its existence. Once again we find the applicability of the model of an inseparable duality of the constrained-known within an infinite, unknowable realm of choice.

This top-level influence of higher entities upon lower level entities is universal throughout existence. According to Davies, the term “downward causation” was first coined by psychologist Donald Campbell who noted that:

all processes at the lower levels of hierarchy are restrained by and act in conformity to the laws of the higher levels.6

As previously suggested, in the instance of my mind and the hand, my mind is the higher entity which directs and constrains the lower entity “the hand” and the hand, in yet another cause and effect loop, could be considered the higher entity from the perspective of the individual cells within the hand and so on. Everything is interconnected, so once again it is meaningless to consider the hand without reference to some greater whole.

We can surmise that the constraints imposed upon us come from higher order systems of which we are unaware.

  1. 1. Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint: Order and Complexity at the Edge of Chaos, Penguin Books, London, 1989, page 190.
  2. 2. Davies, page I (preface).
  3. 3. Davies, page 20.
  4. 4. Davies, page I (preface).
  5. 5. Jane Roberts, The Seth Material, Prentice Hall Press, New York, 1987, page 113.
  6. 6. Davies, page 149.