Discussion of the classification of the theories of thinking matter

G. Filkovsky:

I have a question regarding your "Thinking Matter" article. It can be mechanically converted into a "Living Matter" article:

  1. The first theory acknowledges the existence of both living and not living matters. Moreover, the living matter is believed to be not reducible to the not living one. This is vitalism.
  2. There are variations of this theory according to which God (or Omnipotency) can superadd a faculty of living to any matter. And that the faculty of living exists on its own and does not need to be associated with matter at all. In other words, the matter is always not living per se. The faculty of living is something not material. It can be added to any matter by God. This is the Biblical story.
  3. The third theory postulates that the phenomenon of living is explainable by the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. That living matter can be built of not living one. That there is no living but mechanics. This is mechanistic and materialistic point of view.
  4. The fourth theory resolves the contradiction between the last two by postulating that any matter lives. Not only "living" matter but even "stones" live! That there is no not living matter. This is some Indian and pagan beliefs.
  5. The fifth theory extends the previous one. It adds the inversion of the postulate of the third theory that there is no living but physics. It claims that vise versa there is no physics but living . That not living is explainable by the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. but vise versa, the laws of physics are derivable from the laws of living! This is in New Age ideas.

Doesn't it show that there is more formalism than a content in such classification? Or, is there a deeper connection?

Actually, I have three more questions:

Y. Karasik:

Your parallels between thinking and living matter only strengthen my belief that there is no difference between living and thinking matter. Any living matter thinks !

Regarding your question, which formalism did you notice and what content would you like to see ? The purpose of the classification was simple: various authors speak of thinking matter but mean different things. Since we also started to talk about it, it would be proper to show the difference by collecting and classifying all conceptions of thinking matter.

Regarding your other three questions, the answer is this: I adhere to the view that there is no laws of creativity but the laws of systems evolution, the systems towards improving of which this creativity is applied to. Consequently, the laws of engineering creativity are all but the laws of technical systems evolution. The laws of scientific creativity are all but the laws of the scientific systems (a.k.a. theories) evolution. Etc. In my view, TRIZ is based on such a belief.

How the actual "thinking process" goes, I do not know. I am not talking about thinking process. I am talking about the laws of creative thinking. They are equal to the laws of systems evolution. As for "thinking process" I have no theory of it. I can only suspect that it is based on emulation in our brain of some systems evolution (rather than computation with the help of neural networks).

This also answers your other question regarding productive and reproductive thinking. Reproductive thinking, by definition, is not creative. That is why I leave it beyond the scope (for now).

Regarding the laws of dialectics and #5, I do not see any connection: #5 asserts that the laws of physics are degenerate case of the laws of systems evolution. Which book on dialectics says this ? None.

G. Filkovsky:

It is very helpful that you have used the word "belief" a few times in your response. There is no reason for a belief, and I just want to make clear that I don't share most of these explicit beliefs and implicit assumptions behind them.

However, regardless of my beliefs, your answer has clarified to me that your ##1-5 do not constitute a classification: #5 is not a class in the same set. It does not relate to the same subject the ##1-4 do. The other four classes talk about a thinking, creative or not, as in "thinking process", while you are "not talking about it". You actually "suspect" #3 in that regard ("emulation in our brain"), but you don't need to care, since #5 is about something else. It is not another point of view on thinking vs. not thinking, and it can go together with any of the other four; any "thinking" from ##1-4 can follow laws of systems evolution, and any "not thinking" from those classes can follow a degenerate case of these laws.

If I understand you, and TRIZ, correctly, the laws of systems evolution exist and work regardless of thinking, and the thinking gets (creative) results, when it follows - consiously or not - these laws. Your new idea is about the "degenerate case", but it has nothing to do with thinking.

Y. Karasik:

I do not understand why you do not like the word "belief". Belief is simply something not proven yet. It is simply a synonim of "hypothesis" (or "assumption"). Hypotheses as well as assumptions have reasons behind them. My beliefs are no exception. The fact that you claim that "there is no reason for a belief" indicates that by "belief" you mean not "hypothesis" (as I do) but something else. But it is fine with me.

Regarding the classification, you are wrong that ##1-4 talk about thinking process. They talk about thinking matter: which matter is thinking, can it be built of not thinking matter, etc. Only #3 touches upon thinking process by claiming that there is no thinking but physics, chemistry, computation, etc., that thinking process can be constructed from physical process. Similarly, I claim in #5 that physical process can be constructed from thinking process. I do not elaborate on how to do that. But #3 does not elaborate on how to construct thinking process from physical one either !

My words "I am not talking about thinking process" only mean that I am not talking about how it goes. But I tell that the laws of productive thinking are all but the laws of the corresponding systems evolution. It is the same as to say: I do not know how mechanic watches work, but I do not doubt that they are subject to the laws of Newton. I believe you will agree with me that if one is positive that mechanic watches are subject to the laws of dynamics, it does not mean that he knows how they actually work.

Thus, you have an incorrect vision of the theories of thinking matter and their classification. They are concerned with inter-relations between thinking and not thinking matter, rather than with modeling thinking process per se (as you probably assume). My #5 puts forward a new conception of such an inter-relation. Hence, it is valid to consider it as a new item in the classification.

G. Filkovsky:

Probably, "process" was a misleading word choice. I don't want to go there, otherwise the discussion will go out of control. Keeping to the points I've asked about in the start of it, I'm looking for clarification of these questions:

  1. ##1-4 talk about any thinking, while #5 talks about "productive" thinking, which in your definition is about improvement of systems. In my opinion even this definition is too narrow, but regardless of this, do you assume that all thinking is about, is improving of some evolving systems?
  2. ##1-4 talk about thinking vs. non-thinking matter, while #5 talks about laws of thinking vs. laws of non-thinking matter. Do you assume, it's the same?
  3. You say, "the laws of productive thinking are all but the laws of the corresponding systems evolution". Why only evolution? Why not "the laws of productive thinking are all but the laws of the corresponding systems"? If, for example, it is a technical system, which obeys the laws of physics, shouldn't a productive thinking about this system also obey laws of physics?
  4. TRIZ claims that inventive thinking should start following the laws of systems evolution in order to be effective; you claim that "the laws of productive thinking are all but the laws of the corresponding systems evolution". Do you assume it's the same?

We obviously have very different opinions about many topics touched here. I do not intent to argue, certainly not to "convert". I try to get close to the basics of the differences if possible.

Y. Karasik:

Your first phrase of item a) indicates that you still do not understand what philosophical works on thinking matter are about. They do not talk about thinking as you imagined. They talk about inter-relations between thinking and not thinking matter. It can be various inter- relations, including inter-relations between laws of two matters. #3 partially deals with the latter, as well as my #5.

In #5 I talk about productive thinking only because it is already known that reproductive thinking can be performed by any matter. Reproductive thinking is another name for logical operations. Computers can do them, as we know nowadays. Thus, reproductive thinking in all theories can be taken out of scope.

The main issue is creativity, or productive thinking. That is why I talk about inter-relations between the laws of productive thinking (i.e. the laws of creativity) and the laws of not (creatively) thinking matter. What is this NOT creatively thinking matter ? It is regular not living matter. What are the laws of this matter ? It is laws of physics, chemistry, etc. Thus, I am talking about inter-relations between the laws of creativity and the laws of physics, etc.

It is a TRIZ postulate (probably not said explicitly, though) that creativity is always aimed at advancing systems and that the laws of creativity are, therefore, the laws of evolution of systems.

If thinking does not follow these laws, it is not effective, as you agreed upon in your item d). Hence, such thinking cannot be considered to be productive/creative (since it is not effective and does not result in creating anything new). In your item d) you again confused "thinking process" with "laws of thinking". Not every mental process in our brain is productive thinking. To become productive (or effective as you put it) it has to follow the laws of productive thinking, i.e. the laws of the corresponding systems evolution. Thus, the answer to your question put in item d) is as follows: the laws of productive thinking are all but the laws of the corresponding systems evolution. But the mental processes in our brain do not always represent productive thinking.

Your phrase that "TRIZ claims that inventive thinking should start following the laws of systems evolution in order to be effective" is self-contradictory. If thinking is not effective it cannot be inventive. The phrase has to be modified as follows: "TRIZ claims that thinking should start following the laws of systems evolution in order to become effective and inventive".

But in this wording it simply acknowledges that not all mental processes in our brain are inventive (or productive, or creative) thinking. In order to become inventive (productive, or creative) thinking has to follow the laws of such thinking. And these laws are all but the laws of the corresponding systems evolution.

G. Filkovsky:

Ley me put your answers in the frame of my questions.

Did I understand correctly?

If yes, this is enough for me. I find the basic difference between our positions is, that in my opinion the dichotomy "logical thinking - creative thinking", especially where "creative thinking" means evolving a system, is wrong. In my opinion, "thinking" is much more than these two.

A less basic but still important difference in assumptions is similar to that: in my opinion the inter-relation topic is much broader than the topic of inter-relation of laws, and, in my opinion, the later topic is secondary.

Yet another difference is that, in my opinion, "following the laws" and "being the laws" is not the same. In other words, "knowing and consiously using the laws of technical systems evolution" (as TRIZ puts it) would just make the inventive thinking logical.

Farther a less basic but still big difference is in a value given to systems evolution: you see it as objective and central, I see it only as a setup for a historical analysis.

Y. Karasik:

The terms "productive" and "reproductive" thinking are not my inventions. They are from psychology. As far as I remember, by reproductive thinking psychologists mean just logical inferences. But I view it wider: any thinking that does not create something new is reproductive. For example, the chain of thoughts "What to do this evening ? I do not know. May be to go to the theater ? ... " can also be called reproductive. Alternatively, we can give it some other name and call reproductive just logical operations. But it does not matter, since the topic of the discussion is PRODUCTIVE (or CREATIVE, or INVENTIVE, etc.) thinking !

Creative thinking is about creating something. Since there is difference between what was previously and what is now after this something was created, creating changes systems (or creates new ones from scratch). Change of systems is a step in their evolution. Hence, creative thinking is about advancing system's evolution. This is the answer to your question a). Namely, not all thinking is about improving of some systems, but only CREATIVE/PRODUCTIVE/INVENTIVE thinking is about this !

Regarding b), yes, inter-relations between the laws of thinking matter and the laws of not thinking matter constitute a subset of all possible inter-relations between the two matters ! Do you doubt it ?

Regarding c), it is not "?" but a definitive answer: the laws of creative thinking cannot be equal to the laws of systems. (By the latter you probably meant the laws of systems functioning since you equaled them to the laws of physics, chemistry, etc.) The reason why the laws of creative thinking cannot be equal to the laws of systems functioning is this: they are equal to the laws of systems evolution, and the laws of systems functioning and the laws of systems evolution are not the same !

With regard to d), I corrected not a TRIZ claim but your wrong claim about TRIZ.

Now regarding your distinction between "following the laws" of evolution and "being the laws" of evolution, I would like to explain something. By definition, the laws of inventive thinking are the laws, which such thinking follows. In other words,

the laws of inventive thinking = the laws, which inventive thinking follows.

Suppose that inventive thinking does not follow the laws of evolution. Then, according to TRIZ, it will not be inventive. Hence,

the laws, which inventive thinking follows = the laws of evolution.

Taking into account the previous equality, we obtain:

the laws of inventive thinking = the laws of evolution !

Your error was in confusing (unspecified) thinking with inventive thinking. The laws of (unspecified) thinking may, of course, not be the laws of systems evolution. But as soon as (unspecified) thinking starts to follow the laws of evolution, it becomes inventive thinking. And the laws of inventive thinking are the laws, which it follows. And it follows the laws of evolution. Simple.

G. Filkovsky:

Your clarification regarding (unspecified) thinking vs. inventive thinking leads to the following clarification of my position:

  1. In my opinion, there is much more to CREATIVE/PRODUCTIVE/INVENTIVE thinking than improving of some systems.
  2. In my opinion "philosophical classes" 1-4 are about ALL aspects of inter-relations between the two matters, while #5 is ONLY about the subset.
  3. In my opinion, thinking should follow ALL laws of systems in question, NOT ONLY laws of their evolution.
  4. In my opinion, what TRIZ means by "following the laws" is "conscious using of the discovered, formulated, and learned laws", like using other rules, standards, and tables by engineers in their practice. In my opinion, such thinking is REPRODUCTIVE.

Notice that in A), I claim that there is more to creative thinking than systems improvement, while in D), I claim that inventive thinking may be reproductive. There is a reason for that, but it is out of scope of this discussion. I don't think our positions need farther clarification in this scope. Any farther clarification would be better set up as a separate article.

Y. Karasik:

Your claim A) contradicts the definition of creative thinking. Creative means creating something new (in the old system or completely new system). Creating something new is changing/advancing system. (I do not use word "improving".) Thus, by definition, creative thinking is about changing/advancing systems.

Your claim B) is simply wrong. Every theory of thinking matter considers only those inter-relations between thinking and not thinking matters, which it considers. None considers ALL. I am even not sure that ALL is a finite class.

It seems to me that you simply do not like #5 and invent various not serious arguments against it. Initially you claimed that ##1-4 talk about thinking process, whereas #5 does not. After I refuted it, you started to claim that ##1-4 talk about ALL inter-relations and #5 does not. I again refuted but you may continue like this: ##1-4 talk about YELLOW inter-relations, whereas #5 does not. After I refute this as well, you still will be able to put forward a new argument: ##1-4 talk about SPARCE inter-relations, and #5 does not. Etc. It is simply impossible to refute all such arguments. The strategy is not losing.

Regarding your opinion C) it has the right to exist. But I would like to see reasons behind it. You may write a separate article on this explaining the grounds for your opinion.

G. Filkovsky:

You're right, in this light it looks that I'm just arguing about the classification. Really, these changes are only the result of me trying to express my thought in the terms you use. It started with "thinking". I used "thinking process", which turned out to be vague. You introduced "inter-relations", and I used it. It looks like a new argument, but it is the same one in new terms. May be I should just say, that 1-4 are about the "matter", while 5 is about the "laws".

I noticed in one of my responses that 1-4 are mutually exclusive, while 5 can go with any of them; if it was a "classification", they would be all mutually exclusive; you didn't reply to that.

As I said before, this is the least interesting item and not related to the other three. If you call the 1-5 a "series of theories" instead of "classification", there wouldn't be what to talk about. It's only formal, and I don't care about it. Your idea is new, it is not included in 1-4, and if this is what you want to say, I agree with it.

I also don't have any opinion about the idea itself: if there is such a thing as "laws of systems evolution", the laws of dynamics very much might be these laws' degenerate case. It wouldn't make me less materialistic. Rather my strong opinion is in regards to relations between creative thinking and systems evolution. This is what the other three items are about. You can do whatever you want with the item B).

Y. Karasik:

This is OK with me. By the way, I just checked with definitions of productive and creative thinking on the Internet and learned that they are not synonimous for psychologists. By productive thinking they mean thinking, which goes beyond past experience (as opposed to reproductive thinking, which they define as copy-cat thinking). But by creative thinking they mean more or less the same as what I called "PRODUCTIVE/CREATIVE/INVENTIVE thinking" in our discussion. Namely, to them "creative thinking is generally considered to be involved with the creation or generation of ideas, processes, experiences or objects" It is creative (rather than productive) thinking, which they consider to be opposite to logical thinking.

Thus, we can either adjust our terminology to meet theirs, or consider productive thinking to be synonimous to creative thinking (as I did in the discussion). The latter, in my opinion, is more consistent because there are problems with their definition of productive thinking. If applying rules is considered to be reproductive thinking, then what is about creative application of rules ? Is it still reproductive or already productive thinking ? For example, solving problems by TRIZ is productive or reproductive thinking ? Their definition is too ambiguous.

Anyway, identification of productive and creative thinking in the discussion does not affect its essense. For people who disagree with such identification, I can just use the term of "creative/inventive thinking".