Hey Jim,
I agree with (almost) all that you say below.

I understand that this is a problem with the word "purpose'. I understand that for you (or maybe generally in english ?), purpose means something that is imposed on you from the outside (like god, nature, etc)… So let's forget about this word. It is not what Monod, or myself, mean, on the contrary (he has a whole chapter on religion, and the notion that the universe has a goal — which he refutes) (From wikipedia : "All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying its own contingency" (Monod, 44). It is this contingency of human existence that is the central message of Chance and Necessity, that life arose by chance and all beings of life, including humans, are the products of natural selection").

Monod speaks about teleonomy : "Teleonomy is sometimes contrasted with teleology, where the latter is understood as a purposeful goal-directedness brought about through human or divine intention."

Teleonomy is from below, teleology is from above.

I speak of inner forces. I just mean the forces that make a bacteria move, that make you wake up in the morning, etc.. You escape the universal physics laws, you are not (only) driven by gravity, electromagnetism, etc… Maybe it is your genes that make you eat and sleep (and mate), maybe it is your mental desire to know more about poetry, or programming.. Whatever : these forces are inside you, and there are no physics law to describe them. You are living. ;) 

Then the subject of human vs. machines is a another one. Are human mere machines ? Are programs alive ? What is life ? Old subjects (see Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Wiener,..).. Programming is a very good entry point, in my opinion, to deal with these subjects though, since, in theory, you can program anything (cf Turing's universal machine)… Even life and consciousness ? These are all questions, I have no answer.

Le 18 juil. 2018 à 17:29, Jim Andrews <jim@vispo.com> a écrit :

first, let me say that in the below remarks, i expect you would agree with me. i know you as a friend and see you as a progressive, intelligent person and artist.

the (usually religious) people who say that 'we were put on earth to fulfill our purpose, which is to (whatever)' seem to think that god made us and made us with that purpose. but my own feeling is that any purpose we have is something we decide on.

someone might object by saying 'our genetic programming gave us sexual desire and the ability to reproduce ourselves, with a mate. our purpose is to reproduce.'  i would counter that although we have instincts that urge us to sex, or make us fear what we don't understand, and so on, our sentience/language/consciousness/whatever allows us to choose what we do, rather than inexorably being driven simply by genetic programming. there are many people who choose, for instance, not to have children or have a mate, and they are not inexorably defeated by denying their so-called biological purpose.

those who insist on the moral rectitude of 'natural' ways of doing things are usually authoritarianly mistaken, fascisticly mistaken. such is the case with those who think homosexuality is an abomination, or that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, etc. they think their ugly fascist mind fuck is god's word; they're deluded.

even saying, for instance, that the 'purpose' of an eye is to see is misleading. evolution of eyes begins with chance mutation of a light-sensitive sense apparatus, which already is more than one step, none of which have purpose. and it proceeds, at every step, without purpose. purpose is something we impose on things. the idea that eyes are sufficiently complex that they require a designer is a common misconception; scholars have shown how they can have evolved without a designer and without 'purpose'.

also, if any program qualifies as a 'desiring machine' with 'purpose', doesn't that render the notion, as a definition of a living system, superfluous?

anyway, the above seem to me  impediments to the idea that living things, especially humans, have 'purposes'.

thanks for the link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negentropy . I don't really understand it but I'll give it a read.


On 7/18/2018 3:47 AM, Antoine Schmitt wrote:
Well, whether you call it purpose, will, desire, drive or just genetic programs, it is a fact that living entities are moved by forces that come from inside themselves, as opposed to particles, rocks, galaxies, atoms, dead bodies, which are moved solely by forces outside themselves (the fundamental forces of the universe : gravity, electromagnetism, etc..)

Monod goes on to define his notion of purpose (which is not the long term conscious purpose of the american dream = earn more money ;), but rather a set of mainly unconscious forces from within that are the reason why living entities just don't stay still. I don't know if this is why you reject the word purpose as such…

I'm personally interested in this "desire to live", as a constructing force that creates a shape among a world of randomness, both outside randomness from the world, and inside randomness from the many whirling molecules inside us. A shape that is the being, a shape that creates a form of order in the universe, a kind of negentropy.

In many of my artworks, I approach this by creating programs that ostensibly desire.

But one could argue (and this is another discussion), that *any* program is a desiring machine. Something that *wants* from the inside. Even if it only wants what its programmer wants.



Le 18 juil. 2018 à 03:15, Jim Andrews <jim@vispo.com> a écrit :

I picked up a copy of Chance and Necessity by Jacques Monod from the library, Antoine. Not sure how far I'll get with it, though.

"Every artifact is a product made by a living being which  through it expresses, in a particularly conspicuous manner, one of the fundamental characteristics common to all living beings without exception: that of being  objects endowed with a purpose or project, which at the same time they exhibit in their structure and carry out through their performances (such as, for instance, the making of artifacts).

Rather than reject this idea (as certain biologists have tried to do) it is indispensable to recognize that it is essential to the very definition of living beings. We shall maintain that the latter are distinct from all other structures or systems present in the universe through this characteristic property, which we shall call teleonomy."

(page 9)

I think that the idea that living things have purposes is wrong.

I think I'm more interested in your ideas and work concerning chance/randomness/necessity than I am in Jacques Monod, Antoine.


On 7/13/2018 5:44 PM, Antoine Schmitt wrote:
I guess I have been quite influenced by Jacques Monod's book Chance and Necessity a long time ago.

So I use a lot of chance (randomness) in my artworks that deal with the strange movements of (artificial) living beings.. Both inside, and outside the beings.

Le 12 juil. 2018 à 19:41, Jim Andrews <jim@vispo.com> a écrit :

Very interesting poetical writing about what you do with randomness, Antoine. Am very interested to hear more about it.

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