Thursday, 20 October 2016

The nature of 'narrative' in international development.

Some interesting material on narrative on the website of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).  Eg, Simply telling a good story by Liz Carlile (2106), director of communications at IIED and What’s in a narrative? by Mike Shanahan (2012).

A couple of extracts from the latter:
A scholar called Emery Roe developed the concept of development policy narratives in 1991, ...

According to Roe, such narratives are strategic simplifications that help policymaking in the face of situations whose complexity can instil policy paralysis. They generate consensus around major policies and make political action possible.

As simplifications, narratives are fundamentally different from scientific theories. Science, like narratives, needs to spread to become accepted, but science operates within a formal system that validates its findings, through publication of evidence, peer-review and replication.

"Scientific facts are falsifiable," said Jeremy Swift. "Narratives are not. They escape the checks and balances of science."

Narratives need the support of scientific authority but at the same time need to avoid the complexity and conditional nature of scientific knowledge and this is why they exist. As Kr├Ątli pointed out: “scientific knowledge could never be as convincing as a good narrative.”

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Facts, information and alternative narratives

I've got a bit obsessed with seeing alternative narratives all over the place at the moment.  Here's a few.

1 Brexit. These thoughts were prompted by a comment by colleague Magnus Ramage a while back - about a blog post (or contribution for The Conversation) that he thought of writing but didn't get around to [edit: he has now written a post for his blog]. During the run up to the referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, he'd seen someone calling for more information to help decide which way to vote, and he was reflecting on the relative roles of narratives and information in the debates. I'm not sure what Magnus would have said (I'm sure it would have been far more academically rigorous that what I'm saying here!), but my argument is that the bigger problem was the narratives.

Famously, the 'leave' campaign made a lot out of this: "We send the EU £350 million a week. Let's find our NHS instead." Even putting in on the side of their campaign bus.

Sending the EU £350 million a week sounds like a simple fact - information - and indeed it is.  The remain campaign could not say "We do not send the EU £350 million a week" because we do.  But immediately beyond that, the next sentence on the side of the bus ("Let's fund our NHS instead") is narrative which may be disputed. Yes, it might theoretically be possible to spend the £350 million a week on the NHS instead of sending it the EU if we left the EU, but in reality there was never any chance that would happen. The former leave campaigners now acknowledge this - now that they have won the referendum. They have changed their narrative.  A narrative as to why we would not have £350 million a week more to spend on the NHS was very eloquently put by an episode of the radio programme 'More or Less', which you can listen to: "The Cost of EU Membership". So I'll not repeat the arguments (narrative) here, but in essence we would only have the £350 million to spend on the NHS if we didn't replace the current EU funding of, for example, Welsh farmers, with our own funding. (And there's the really bizarre bit about the EU having to continue to give as the 'rebate', even after we were not paying the money to be rebated, if we were to have an extra  £350 million.)

And yet, for enough of the population, the narrative which presented a scenario in which we had an extra 350 million a week to spend on the NHS won the day. We voted to leave. Of course it wasn't just that: there were plenty of other aspects to the narrative and other information information, but my point is that the referendum was decided on force of narratives.  Why the 'leave' narratives held sway is very complicated, but I don't think it had much to do with how much information was available.

2 Halal meat. At various times I've been asked to sign petitions calling for a ban on Halal slaughter, on the grounds of preventing animal cruelty (eg, this one on Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that Halal slaughter is more cruel than non-Halal (though even this is disputed). Although I feel very strongly about animal cruelty, I've not signed these petitions, because I think that factory farming is much bigger animal welfare issue than Halal.

So there are two pieces of information:

1 Halal Slaughter is cruel 
2 Factory farming is cruel.

One narrative, which asks me to sign the petition, presents #1 and ignores - or downplays - #2, while I'm arguing the other way around. (I'm not vegetarian but I avoid factory-farmed meat, having a low-meat diet and sticking to vegetarian food if I can't get free-range meat.)

But why should that stop me signing the petition anyway? The problem is what else the anti-halal narrative entails, which tends to be aligned with either right-wing Islamaphobia (so, for example, the right-wing, Trump-supporting, Breithart news supports it) or new atheists such as Ricky Gervais and Richard Dawkins. I'm not saying I automatically oppose anything supported by the new atheists (or even Breithart news, for that matter), but it does lead you to wonder whether the narrative is really about animal welfare or opposition to religion. I mention Ricky Gervais and Richard Dawkins because they were praising Denmark for banning halal, yet Denmark has a terrible record on factory farming.

Two other issues that I've thought about in terms of narrative but won't spend time writing about now, are: 3 Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Leadership and, onto more serious issues... 4 Should the manager of MK Dons, Karl Robinson, be sacked? (No!)

Discussion.  I was chatting with a reader of this blog (there are some!) last week, and she referred to a conversation that she'd had about an issue with two competing stories. Her interlocutor had said 'what we need is more information'.  That is based on a positivist paradigm where the information/data is 'out there' waiting to be found, and that there is a 'best' (some would even argue, a 'correct') narrative to fit the information/data.

My argument here is that 'more information' does not in general help, because the narrative chooses or creates the information to fit the story.  But still, not all narratives are equal.

My narrative itself needs more work!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Information-tinted spectacles solving the problems of physics

"Perhaps looking at the universe through information-tinted spectacles will open us up to blindingly obvious solutions that make the problems we encounter today melt away."
I do wish the New Scientist would stop claiming they are talking about reality. As I see it, it is hype to claim authority over all other human endeavour.

Nevertheless, this: "Six Principles / Six Problems / Six Solutions" (New Scientist, 24 September 2016 pp28 -35) is great. They call it 'The Nature of Reality' on the cover (and "The Structure of Reality" on the poster), but what it really (!) is, is an overview of the state of physics.  They have put it together as a poster you can download from here (which I have done, printed out, and put on the side of a filing cabinet in my office.)

It starts from what they call on the cover "six principles that rule the universe' but inside the magazine are, more reasonably, "six basic principles that underlie our theories of physics on scales large and small". It follows these through to six problems and then to six (possible) solutions. So:

Six principles
THE SPEED OF LIGHT IS A CONSTANT. Nothing can exceed this cosmic speed limit
THE EQUIVALENCE PRINCIPLE . Gravity and acceleration always look the same
THE COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLE. The universe is the same in all places and in all directions
QUANTISATION. Things come in bite-size chunks
UNCERTAINTY. There’s a limit to how much any of us can know
WAVE-PARTICLE DUALITY. Quantum objects exist in many different guises at once

Six problems
DARK MATTER. Galaxies rotate too quickly for their visible matter
DARK ENERGY. The universe is flying apart faster and faster
INFLATION. Faster-than-light expansion spawns many other universes
FORCE UNIFICATION. Our theories of reality don’t get along
FINE-TUNING. We can’t explain the numbers that rule the universe
MEASUREMENT. Do we inadvertently control everything that happens?

Six solutions
MODIFIED GRAVITY. Our theories of gravity have only ever been tested on small scales
SUPERSYMMETRY. More particles can explain why the universe is as it is
FIFTH FORCE. Could a quintessence banish cosmic ghosts?
STRING THEORIES. An ultimate theory must subsume quantum theory and relativity
THE MULTIVERSE. The universe is as it is – because every other universe is out there too
INFORMATION. Energy and matter don’t matter – information is where it’s at

And there we have it, at the bottom: information might be the solution! 
Energy and matter don’t matter – information is where it’s at
When attempting to unify general relativity and quantum theory, it’s generally assumed that general relativity is at fault. It is, after all, a classical field theory of the sort that shinier quantum theories have otherwise nudged aside.
But as long as aspects of quantum theory such as the measurement problem remain largely inexplicable, there’s always the chance it is the wrong’un, or just an approximation to some deeper theory. What’s truly pulling the strings of entanglement, for example? The world embodied by quantum theory is not the most entangled world out there – other, even weirder worlds exist in theory that have even greater degrees of correlation. Why this entangled, and not more?
That might be another fine-tuning issue. But entanglement does seem to be at the root of many mysteries, and there are recent hints that it could be the warp and weft that holds space and time together. In that case, what is entanglement? The best we can say is that it’s some sort of collective information shared between particles.
That highlights a common theme in much cutting-edge physics: that understanding space-time, and the route to a more unified picture of nature generally, lies in treating information – not matter and energy – as the most fundamental thing in the universe and understanding better how it works.
Perhaps looking at the universe through information-tinted spectacles will open us up to blindingly obvious solutions that make the problems we encounter today melt away.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Information, narrative, and history. Thoughts prompted by reviews of a book by Richard Holloway

I am conscious that my arguments for the primacy of narrative over facts/information might appear to licence 'anything goes', but it doesn't.

1) You can't just make up information. There has to be something underneath the trapezium and the process in the trapezium is not arbitrary.

2) Narratives are not all equal.

At some point I want to illustrate with the 'narrative' as a mathematical formula or a computer programme, but for now I want record some thoughts arising from a couple recent book reviews in the Guardian.

A review of “A Little History of Religion” by Richard Holloway in the Guardian by Tim Whitmarsh on 21st September 2016 included this:
A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway review – God versus oppression

The former bishop is excellent on the crisis we face today, but has too narrow a concept of religion and too obvious an agenda about true believers fighting state power

As a history of religion this book is ill‑conceived. As an informed reflection on the state of faith in the western world in the 21st century … it is insightful and intelligent. But it is as a history that it announces itself, and that is how it will be judged.
Those with a little postmodern learning often opine that history can never be objective; it always tells a story. That may be true enough in a crude sense, but the writing of history remains a subtle art. Bad history is transparently ideological: it uses a crude narrative to make an obvious point. Good history, on the other hand, is based on deep learning. It surprises the reader, using the past to disrupt our expectations, or showing how what seems to be one thing in fact may be something very different. On these criteria, I am afraid to say, Holloway is a bad historian. It is not just the distortion of fact and the absence of any critical handling of sources (though it is disturbing, to me at least, to see chronological dates attached to the Biblical Abraham and Moses). The main problem is that his accounts always serve the same black-and-white agenda, painting the same picture of pious types battling monstrous state power. [My emphasis]
Now I like Richard Holloway. I like what he has to say and he also comes across as honest and kind, so I like him as a person, too.  So this negativity caught my attention and set me thinking more deeply than I might otherwise have done.

"Those with a little postmodern learning": that's me!  Well, *very* little postmodern learning.

This has led me to spend a few minutes looking further at facts and history, or historiography, I suppose I mean.  I'll report more on that in separate post.  For the moment I'll focus on this review, but also on another one. Someone else had also, earlier, reviewed this book in Observer, which is really the Guardian-on-Sunday.

Peter Stanford on 14 August 2016:
A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway – review

An agnostic ex-bishop’s account of our enduring love affair with deities is even-handed, elegant and compelling

[...] Most writers who attempt such a sweep end up giving the religions they know best – by upbringing, culture or preference – too great a prominence. Not Holloway, though: he shows no favouritism to the various branches of the Christian family and is just as authoritative on Islam as he is on Anglicanism.
I've chosen that paragraph to quote by Stanford because it is, superficially at least, completely at odds with Witmarsh, who says:
It is a “little history” because it is written from a comfortable armchair. Holloway’s is an unashamedly, but apparently unselfconsciously, Protestant account. He takes it for granted that the only religious experience that matters is divine revelation, when God talks directly to human beings: none of that ritual mumbo-jumbo that bothers the anthropologists. So we race past entire areas of human experience. He explicitly states that Shinto, ancient Greek polytheist and native American beliefs aren’t proper religion; presumably he would say the same about the indigenous cultures of Africa or South America, since he never mentions them.
Perhaps there is no problem. Perhaps it is just that Witmarsh is reviewing it, as he says, as history, which Stanford has made no mention of. Still, it is interesting that the two accounts should be so different. In particular, that Witmarsh is critical because it is so parochial (if I may use the term), while Stanford is complimentary because it is not parochial. Alternative narratives about the same book.

So, there are two levels.

Witmarsh is arguing that Holloway's narrative is not legitimate history, because it is transparently ideological ("painting the same picture of pious types battling monstrous state power") and because of his distortion of fact and the absence of any critical handling of sources.

But then, beyond that, there is the legitimacy of the narrative of the reviews themselves. Could it be that the reviews themselves are "transparently ideological"? Could they be distorting facts to fit their own narrative?  Or, picking up on my previous post, choosing different 'facts' from the sources to support different narratives?  Of course the reviews are not objective: there's surely no such thing. But at what point might they cross some boundary and become "transparently ideological" reviews?  Among all the dross of the below-the-line comments on the reviews, someone had pointed out that Quakers are not an American development, so Witmarsh's statement that
Modernity is represented in this history primarily by America’s Christian and para-Christian developments: Quakers, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists and so forth.
is wrong about Quakers. That doesn't really matter or significantly change the argument, but it is a reminder to careful of the narrative sweeping the information along without care for the facts.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Facts, data and information. But above all, the narrative.

My text for the day:
“You tell me that I need to acknowledge this because it is a fact. But facts only exist within a narrative. The fact you want me to acknowledge exists in your narrative but not in mine, so it is not the facts you want me to acknowledge, but the narrative.” [1]
What are facts? Facts might be data or information (see below), but the word is used to emphasise something to be true. Facts distinguished from fiction. Facts that are ‘out there’ and objective, independent of the observer. In some narratives [2] of information, this would make facts the data, and a surrounding narrative would turn them into information.

But, I have previously argued that data needs information. This is what I wrote there:
“It can be useful to distinguish between data and information in order to demonstrate that data is not information and that you need to extract meaning from data to get information. However, data needs information in the same way that information needs data. Data presupposes at least the potential for finding meaning and therefore information. Stuff would not be data if there was no chance of meaning ever being extracted from it. It would just be: stuff. We wouldn’t call it data”
The insight is that data and information come in a pair. The point is that ‘out there’ is a sea of, of what? Of stuff, of differences. Practically – to all intents and purposes – infinite differences which might make a difference. They are not data. They are nothing to us, literally, nothing, unless they can fit into a narrative. Or rather, unless they can be converted (by one of my trapeziums) into an entity that exists in a narrative.

So, facts-data-information are all of a kind, and only exist insofar as they take their place in a narrative.

I was expressing my skepticism of 'facts' to my family in the car one day a year or two ago, but my elder son was not having it. He is active in the fight against climate change, so deniers denying the facts of climate change are a problem. I'm 100% with him on the importance of tackling climate change and the culpability of deniers but I think the problem is the narrative, not the facts. However, that's for another time. For the moment, I want to pick up on his illustrative argument: that it was a fact that on 25th May 2015* we drove to Winslow to visit my parents. And if someone says otherwise, they are simply wrong.

*Actually, I can't remember when it was. But take it as then, for the purposes of the argument.

I'm not saying that 'anything goes'. It is not that me saying "on 25th May 2015 we drove to Watford to visit Elton John" is on a par with me saying "on 25th May 2015 we drove to Winslow to visit my parents".  The former is not true. The latter really happened. (Well, maybe, might have done, and assuming we agree on the meaning of the all the words.) But, there are almost infinitely more things that 'really happened'. All the other things we did on that day. All the other places we went to on other days. "At 10.43 and 12 seconds on 25th May 2015 I breathed in" might have 'really happened'. If I say "on 25th May 2015 we drove to Winslow to visit my parents" I am saying it for some purpose, as an entity in a narrative.

As I write this, I have in mind the 'capta' of Sue Holwell and Peter Checkland:
Data are available to us, and capta are the result of consciously selecting some data for attention, or creating some new category – such as ‘the number of golf club members living in Watford’, or becoming aware of some items of data which we begin to pay attention to. [...] Having selected, paid attention to, or created some data, thereby turning it into capta, we attribute meaning to it. ... The attribution of meaning in context converts capta into ... information. [3]
Checkland and Holwell have a hierarchy of data-capta-information (and then knowledge), but I'm taking a more extreme line which does away with the distinction between data and capta. Checkland and Holwell were exploring information is a specific context of information systems, whereas I'm considering a more absolute philosophical question. The moment we acknowledge the existence of (an item of) data, then we are paying attention to it, so there's no data that is not also capta. Maybe also I'd argue that 'knowledge' is the narrative into which information is embedded.

So here's my argument. Conventionally (figure (a) below), we envisage a limited number of 'facts', around which we build a narrative. Dispute is around specific facts. You and I disagree over a fact, and that fact changes our narratives. The facts are the objective entities out there in the world, and there is a limited number of them, so our narrative has to fit in with this valuable resource.

Instead (figure (b)), I'm arguing that the narrative determines the facts. Not whether we went to Watford or Winslow on 25th May 2016, but whether we went to Winslow or I breathed in and out at 10.43 and 12 seconds on 25th May 2016. Facts are not, in this narrative, the fixed framework around which we build a narrative. The narrative provides the framework which determines the entities which can exist within the narrative.

In figure (b), I've drawn the facts as fuzzy to indicate that they are, sort of, subservient to the narrative, but actually in a sense they aren't really any fuzzier than in (a). They are still entities within the narrative.

Finally, remember what I say about this blog: it is always work-in-progress!

1. Source: me, 14/9/2016, in conversation with Magnus Ramage. But Magnus is not the ‘you’ above: far from it. The ‘you’ was a hypothetical third-party. It was a discussion with Magnus about the nature of facts, information and the role of narrative and the ideas herewith presented owe a lot to Magnus’s insights.
2. This gets dangerously self-referential. I am writing a narrative about narratives and information.
3. Holwell, Sue (2011) Fundamentals of Information: purposeful activity, meaning and conceptualisation. in Perspectives on Information (Magnus Ramage and David Chapman, Eds.) Routledge, New York, 2011. pp 65-76.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Self-driving cars - fatal Tesla car crash

Fatal Tesla Self-Driving Car Crash Reminds Us That Robots Aren't Perfect: The first fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot system highlights the contradictory expectations of vehicle autonomy
On 7 May, a Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal accident in Florida. At the time of the accident, the vehicle was driving itself, using its Autopilot system. The system didn’t stop for a tractor-trailer attempting to turn across a divided highway, and the Tesla collided with the trailer. In a statement, Tesla Motors said this is the “first known fatality in just over 130 million miles [210 million km] where Autopilot was activated” and suggested that this ratio makes the Autopilot safer than an average vehicle
And discussed by Kaydee in the Engineering Ethics Blog:
By all accounts, Brown [the 'driver' of the car, Joshua Brown] was a generous, enthusiastic risk-taker (his specialty when he was in the military was disarming weapons, according to a New York Times report), and hands-free driving went against the explicit instructions Tesla provides for the autopilot feature. But Tesla owners do it all the time, apparently, and until May 7, Mr. Brown had gotten away with it. ...
Still, telling drivers how great a self-driving feature is, and then expecting them to pay constant attention as though the car were a driver's ed student and you were the instructor, is sending a mixed message.
Kaydee makes an interesting comparison with the first recorded steam-locomotive railway fatality which was:
...that of the English politician William Huskisson, who attended the opening ceremonies of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on Sept. 15, 1830, which featured inventor George Stephenson's locomotive the Rocket. Wanting to shake the hand of his former political enemy the Duke of Wellington, Huskisson walked over to the Duke's railway carriage, then saw that the Rocket was bearing down on him on a parallel track. He panicked, tried to climb onto the carriage, and fell back onto the track, where the locomotive ran over his leg and caused injuries that were ultimately fatal. Passengers had been warned to stay inside the train, but many paid no attention.
If Huskisson's death had been mysterious and incomprehensible, it might have led to a wider fear of railways in general. But everyone who learned of it took away the useful lesson that hanging around in front of oncoming steam locomotives wasn't a good idea, and railways became an essential feature of modern life. Nevertheless, every accident can teach engineers and the rest of us useful lessons in how to prevent the next one, and the same is true in Mr. Brown's sad case.

Huskisson's accident - source:
The particular interest for this blog, though, is the information ethics question of the attribution of responsibility for the accident - and whether the fact that it was self-driving makes any difference. In The Ethics of Information Floridi uses the distinction between moral accountability and moral responsibility, and maybe in this case the car is accountable but either the driver or Tesla (or both) are responsible, though I'm not whether that really contributes anything useful.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The difference that [which] makes a difference

The DTMD reseach group takes its name (The Difference That Makes a Difference) from Gregory Bateson's 'definition' of information, for which we* normally reference "Steps to an Ecology of Mind".  (Though actually he calls it Difference which makes a difference in Steps - he does use 'that' elsewhere).

* 'We' being members of the DTMD group, especially Magnus Ramage who introduced me to Bateson and especially to the DTMD definition.

I was checking a reference just now, and thought it would be useful to record what exactly he says about the definition.  Here, for reference, are all the instances of the phrase in Steps, with some of the surrounding discussion.

Gregory Bateson Steps to an Ecology of Mind.Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology

I've checked the page numbers for two different printings:
1972 International Textbook Company Ltd, Aylesbury, UK. ISBN 0700201807. Copyright Chandler Publishing Company 1972

1987 reprint, Jason Aronson Inc. Northvale, New Jersey, London Copyright ® 1972, 1987 by Jason Aronson Inc. ISBN 0-87668-950-0 Downloaded from 24/05/2016

1              Chapter “Double Bind, 1969”

“This paper was given in August, 1969, at a Symposium on the Double Bind; Chairman, Dr. Robert Ryder; sponsored by the American Psychological Association. It was prepared under Career Development Award (MH-21,931) of the National Institute of Mental Health.”

In any case, it is nonsense to say that a man was frightened by a lion, because a lion is not an idea. The man makes an idea of the lion.

The explanatory world of substance can invoke no differences and no ideas but only forces and impacts. And, per contra, the world of form and communication invokes no things, forces, or impacts but only differences and ideas. (A difference which makes a difference is an idea. It is a "bit," a unit of information.)

p276 (1987), p271-2 (1972)

2              Chapter “The Cybernetics of "Self": A Theory of Alcoholism”

"This article appeared in Psychiatry, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 1-18, 1971. Copyright © 1971 by the William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation. Reprinted by permission of Psychiatry Section headed “The Epistemology of Cybernetics”"

A "bit" of information is definable as a difference which makes a difference.
p321 (1987), p315 (1972)

More correctly, we should spell the matter out as: (differences in tree) - (differences in retina) - (differences in brain) - (differences in muscles) -(differences in movement of axe) -(differences in tree), etc. What is transmitted around the circuit is transforms of differences. And, as noted above, a difference which makes a difference is an idea or unit of information.

p323 (1987), p317-8 (1972)

3              Chapter “A re-examination of “Bateson’s Rule*”, section “The problem redefined”

*”This essay has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Genetics, and is here reproduced with the permission of that journal”

The technical term "information" may be succinctly de-fined as any difference which makes a difference in some later event. This definition is fundamental for all analysis of cybernetic systems and organization. The definition links such analysis to the rest of science, where the causes of events are commonly not differences but forces, impacts, and the like. The link is classically exemplified by the heat engine, where available energy (i.e., negative entropy) is a function of a difference between two temperatures. In this classical instance, "information" and "negative entropy" overlap.

p386 (1987), p381 (1972)

4              Chapter “Form, Substance, and Difference”. 

“This was the Nineteenth Annual Korzybski Memorial Lecture, delivered January 9, 1970, under the auspices of the Institute of General Semantics. It is here re-printed from the General Semantics Bulletin, No. 37, 1970, by permission of the Institute of General Semantics.” 

But what is a difference? A difference is a very peculiar and obscure concept. It is certainly not a thing or an event. This piece of paper is different from the wood of this lectern. There are many differences between them—of color, texture, shape, etc. But if we start to ask about the localization of those differences, we get into trouble. Obviously the difference between the paper and the wood is not in the paper; it is obviously not in the wood; it is obviously not in the space between them, and it is obviously not in the time between them. (Difference which occurs across time is what we call "change.")

A difference, then, is an abstract matter.

p458 (1987), p457-8 (1972)

I suggest that Kant's statement can be modified to say that there is an infinite number of differences around and within the piece of chalk. There are differences between the chalk and the rest of the universe, between the chalk and the sun or the moon. And within the piece of chalk, there is for every molecule an infinite number of differences between its location and the locations in which it might have been. Of this infinitude, we select a very limited number, which be-come information. In fact, what we mean by information—the elementary unit of information—is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along which it travels and is continually transformed are themselves provided with energy. The path-ways are ready to be triggered. We may even say that the question is already implicit in them. 

p460 (1987), p459 (1972)

[Carl Jung in Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, Seven Sermons to the Dead] points out that there are two worlds. We might call them two worlds of explanation. He names them the pleroma and the creatura, these being Gnostic terms. The pleroma is the world in which events are caused by forces and impacts and in which there are no "distinctions." Or, as I would say, no "differences." In the creatura, effects are brought about precisely by difference. In fact, this is the same old dichotomy between mind and substance. 

We can study and describe the pleroma, but always the distinctions which we draw are attributed by us to the pleroma. The pleroma knows nothing of difference and distinction; it contains no "ideas" in the sense in which I am using the word. When we study and describe the creatura, we must correctly identify those differences which are effective within it.

I suggest that "pleroma" and "creatura" are words which we could usefully adopt, and it is therefore worthwhile to look at the bridges which exist between these two "worlds." It is an oversimplification to say that the "hard sciences" deal only with the pleroma and that the sciences of the mind deal only with the creatura. There is more to it than that. 

First, consider the relation between energy and negative entropy. The classical Carnot heat engine consists of a cylinder of gas with a piston. This cylinder is alternately placed in contact with a container of hot gas and with a container of cold gas. The gas in the cylinder alternately expands and contracts as it is heated or cooled by the hot and cold sources. The piston is thus driven up and down. 

But with each cycle of the engine, the difference between the temperature of the hot source and that of the cold source is reduced. When this difference becomes zero, the engine will stop. 

The physicist, describing the pleroma, will write equations to translate the temperature difference into "available energy," which he will call "negative entropy," and will go on from there.

The analyst of the creatura will note that the whole system is a sense organ which is triggered by temperature difference. He will call this difference which makes a difference "information" or "negative entropy." For him, this is only a special case in which the effective difference happens to be a matter of energetics. He is equally interested in all differences which can activate some sense organ. For him, any such difference is "negative entropy."

p462-3 (1987), p461-463